Sea-ice ocean interaction processes are of significant influence on the water mass formation in the Weddell gyre. On the basis of data obtained between 1984 and 2008 from eight repeat hydrographic sections, moored instruments and profiling floats in the Weddell gyre on the Greenwich meridian – almost all of them collected with RV Polarstern – we identified variations in the properties of the Winter Water and the sea ice draft. In the Winter Water the salinity was relatively low throughout the 1990s (with a minimum in 1992) and a maximum was observed in 2003. Observations of sea ice draft by moored upward looking sonars are available from 1996 onwards. In the southern part of the transect they display variations on a decadal time scale with a minimum in sea-ice thickness in 1998 and an increase since then. Salinity variations in the Winter Water layer cannot be explained only by variations in sea-ice formation and variable entrainment of underlying Warm Deep Water, but lateral advection of water and sea ice needs to be taken into account as well. Potential sources are melt water from the ice shelves in the western Weddell Sea or transport of water of low salinity entering the Weddell gyre from the east. Accompanying variations of the properties of Warm Deep Water are discussed in detail in a companion paper (Fahrbach et al., 2011, this issue).
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES I (2009-2013) > TOPIC 1: The Changing Arctic and Antarctic > WP 1.4: Antarctic Circumpolar Climate and Ecosystem Study