What Processes Control the Freshwater Budget of the Arctic Seas?
Description of Project
The Arctic seas are characterized by waters of particularly low salinity, a positive Precipitation minus Evaporation budget, a relatively large freshwater input from river runoff, and a vertical stratification dictated by variations in salinity rather than temperature [1,2,3]. These seas are located upstream of the North Atlantic, where their influence is felt as far as Newfoundland  and likely beyond . Moreover, these seas are particularly affected by global warming  and are likely to be experiencing an accelerating hydrological cycle . How will these seas evolve under such drastic changes in their forcings? To answer this question, we should first have a first-order view of the dynamics that control the ocean climate of these seas, notably the structure of their density/salinity field.
My past work was focused upon one Arctic sea in particular, Hudson Bay. The topics I examined included the steady balance of the freshwater sources and sinks , and the processes involved in the seasonal and interannual variability of the freshwaters [8,9]. I am now expanding this work to highlight how these processes vary in importance from one Arctic basin to another, and which parameters dictate this physics .
Numerical simulations of an Arctic basin (Hudson Bay). (left) Sea surface salinity from a realistic 3-D sea ice-ocean coupled model. (right) Seasonal freshwater budget from a conceptual model of the same basin. See St-Laurent et al. (2011,2012).
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- St-Laurent, P., and F. Straneo. On the Controls behind the Freshwater Balance of Arctic Seas, In Prep.