This project investigates interactions between the ocean and atmosphere in order to determine how the present Ross Sea operates in terms of transport and energetics, test this knowledge on a past Ross Sea under warmer conditions, and suggest how a future Ross Sea might operate.
New understanding is needed of Antarctica’s climate and ice sheet configuration during previous warm periods, to compare with present-day trends and predict ice sheet behaviour in a +2°C (Paris Agreement), or warmer, world.
The project focuses on the Ross Sea ocean-atmosphere system with a particular focus on atmospheric and oceanic processes. Our research connects across several scales, addressing climate, regional and mechanistic processes to detect, quantify and project an emerging anthropogenic signal in a complex ocean-atmosphere system.
Objective Leader: Denise Fernandez
Goal: develop an analysis of a heat, salt and energetics for the present ocean-ice-atmosphere system, and use the resulting tools to model future predictions.
Figure: The Ross Sea system and past, present and proposed activity. A) RSO moorings, B) Cape Adare/Robertson Bay, C) Terra Nova Bay, D) Haskell Strait, E) HWD2, F) HWD1 and G) IODP Exp. 374 sites. Proposal objectives (O1-4) examine multiple aspects of this system as indicated on the map. The dotted circles are pending, subject to future work and/or mooring recovery. The purple circle is the site of RISIPE polynya experiment (Objective 4).
Objective Leader: Christina Riesselman
Goal: to reconstruct conditions during past warm periods, including sea surface temperature (SST), salinity (melt water), ocean currents and circulation, mixing, stratification, and sea ice.
Objective Leader: Melissa Bowen
Goal: to monitor heat and salt transport of the Ross Sea shelf-slope system as an interface for Antarctic Bottom Water (AAWB) export and modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) import.
Objective Leader: Craig Stewart
Goal: to quantify mechanics of the Ross Ice Shelf Polynya (RISP) and the cavity edge, an ice-ocean-atmosphere nexus whose influence on both sea ice production and global ocean circulation extends to the north and south.
Figure: The RISIPE polynya experiment (Objective 4) designed to look at critical transfers at the ice-ocean-atmosphere boundary. Polynya are remarkable geophysical phenomena, especially around Antarctica. Despite their relatively small size in global terms, they provide a localized connection between the atmosphere, cryosphere and ocean that has implications at local, regional and global scales.