(American Geophysical Union, 2019-06-22)
Cole, Sylvia T.; Stadler, James
The Arctic Ocean mixed layer interacts with the ice cover above and warmer, nutrient‐rich waters below. Ice‐Tethered Profiler observations in the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean over 2006–2017 are used to investigate changes in mixed layer properties. In contrast to decades of shoaling since at least the 1980s, the mixed layer deepened by 9 m from 2006–2012 to 2013–2017. Deepening resulted from an increase in mixed layer salinity that also weakened stratification at the base of the mixed layer. Vertical mixing alone can explain less than half of the observed change in mixed layer salinity, and so the observed increase in salinity is inferred to result from changes in freshwater accumulation via changes to ice‐ocean circulation or ice melt/growth and river runoff. Even though salinity increased, the shallowest density surfaces deepened by 5 m on average suggesting that Ekman pumping over this time period remained downward. A deeper mixed layer with weaker stratification has implications for the accessibility of heat and nutrients stored in the upper halocline. The extent to which the mixed layer will continue to deepen appears to depend primarily on the complex set of processes influencing freshwater accumulation.