Observations of double diffusive staircase edges in the Arctic Ocean

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Boury, Samuel
Supekar, Rohit
Fine, Elizabeth C.
Musgrave, Ruth C.
Mickett, John B.
Voet, Gunnar
Odier, Philippe
Peacock, Thomas
MacKinnon, Jennifer A.
Alford, Matthew H.
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Double diffusive staircase
Recent observational studies have provided detailed descriptions of double‐diffusive staircases in the Beaufort Sea, characterized by well‐mixed intrusions between high‐gradient interfaces. These structures result from double‐diffusive convection, occurring when cooler fresh water lies atop the warmer saltier Atlantic water layer. In the present study, we investigate the spatial structure of such layers, by analyzing combined high resolution data from a subsurface mooring, a ship‐towed profiling conductivity‐temperature‐depth/ADCP package, and a free‐falling microstructure profiler. At large scale, the modular microstructure profiler data suggest a horizontal “ragged edge” of the layered water masses near the basin boundary. At smaller scales, the mooring data indicate that, in the 300–400 m depth interval, regions of layers abruptly appear. This laterally sharp (of the order of 100 m) interface is advected southwards, as shown by the shallow water integrated mapping system survey conducted nearby. Neither disruption nor formation of layers is directly observed in our data, and we thus interpret our observations as the stable and possibly recent abutment of a layered and an unlayered water masses, now globally advected southwards by a large scale flow.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2022. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 127(11), (2022): e2022JC018906, https://doi.org/10.1029/2022JC018906 .
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Boury, S., Supekar, R., Fine, E. C., Musgrave, R., Mickett, J. b., Voet, G., Odier, P., Peacock, T., MacKinnon, J. a., & Alford, M. H. (2022). Observations of double diffusive staircase edges in the Arctic Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 127(11), e2022JC018906.
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