Decadal observations of internal wave energy, shear, and mixing in the western Arctic Ocean

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Internal waves
Sea ice
As Arctic sea ice declines, wind energy has increasing access to the upper ocean, with potential consequences for ocean mixing, stratification, and turbulent heat fluxes. Here, we investigate the relationships between internal wave energy, turbulent dissipation, and ice concentration and draft using mooring data collected in the Beaufort Sea during 2003–2018. We focus on the 50–300 m depth range, using velocity and CTD records to estimate near-inertial shear and energy, a finescale parameterization to infer turbulent dissipation rates, and ice draft observations to characterize the ice cover. All quantities varied widely on monthly and interannual timescales. Seasonally, near-inertial energy increased when ice concentration and ice draft were low, but shear and dissipation did not. We show that this apparent contradiction occurred due to the vertical scales of internal wave energy, with open water associated with larger vertical scales. These larger vertical scale motions are associated with less shear, and tend to result in less dissipation. This relationship led to a seasonality in the correlation between shear and energy. This correlation was largest in the spring beneath full ice cover and smallest in the summer and fall when the ice had deteriorated. When considering interannually averaged properties, the year-to-year variability and the short ice-free season currently obscure any potential trend. Implications for the future seasonal and interannual evolution of the Arctic Ocean and sea ice cover are discussed.
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(5), (2022): e2021JC018056,
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Fine, E., & Cole, S. (2022). Decadal observations of internal wave energy, shear, and mixing in the western Arctic Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 127(5), e2021JC018056.
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