The 2017 reversal of the Beaufort Gyre: Can dynamic thickening of a seasonal ice cover during a reversal limit summer ice melt in the Beaufort Sea?


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Stefan.Hendricks [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

During winter 2017 the semi‐permanent Beaufort High collapsed and the anticyclonic Beaufort Gyre reversed. The reversal drove eastward ice motion through the Western Arctic, causing sea ice to converge against Banks Island, and halted the circulation of multiyear sea ice via the gyre, preventing its replenishment in the Beaufort Sea. Prior to the reversal, an anomalously thin seasonal ice cover had formed in the Beaufort following ice‐free conditions during September 2016. With the onset of the reversal in January 2017, convergence drove uncharacteristic dynamic thickening during winter. By the end of March, despite seasonal ice comprising 97% of the ice cover, the reversal created the thickest, roughest and most voluminous regional ice cover of the CryoSat‐2 record. Within the Beaufort Sea, previous work has shown that winter ice export can precondition the region for increased summer ice melt, but that a short reversal during April 2013 contributed to a reduction in summer ice loss. Hence the deformed ice cover at the end of winter 2017 could be expected to limit summer melt. In spite of this, the Beaufort ice cover fell to its fourth lowest September area as the gyre re‐established during April and divergent ice drift broke up the pack, negating the reversal's earlier preconditioning. Our work highlights that dynamic winter thickening of a regional sea ice cover, for instance during a gyre reversal, offers the potential to limit summer ice loss, but that dynamic forcing during spring dictates whether this conditioning carries through to the melt season.



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Published
Eprint ID
53363
DOI 10.1029/2020JC016796

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Babb, D. , Landy, J. , Lukovich, J. , Haas, C. , Hendricks, S. , Barber, D. and Galley, R. (2020): The 2017 reversal of the Beaufort Gyre: Can dynamic thickening of a seasonal ice cover during a reversal limit summer ice melt in the Beaufort Sea? , Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans . doi: 10.1029/2020JC016796


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