Open-ocean convection and polynya formation in a large-scale ice–ocean model

Hugues Goosse, Thierry Fichefet
2001 Tellus: Series A, Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography  
The physical processes responsible for the formation in a large-scale ice-ocean model of an offshore polynya near the Greenwich meridian in the Southern Ocean are analysed. In this area, the brine release during ice formation in autumn is sufficient to destabilise the water column and trigger convection. This incorporates relatively warm water into the surface layer which, in a first step, slows down ice formation. In a second step, it gives rise to ice melting until the total disappearance of
more » ... he ice at the end of September. Two elements are crucial for the polynya opening. The first one is a strong ice-transport divergence in fall induced by southeasterly winds, which enhances the amount of local ice formation and thus of brine release. The second is an inflow of relatively warm water at depth originating from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, that sustains the intense vertical heat flux in the ocean during convection. The simulated polynya occurs in a region where such features have been frequently observed. Nevertheless, the model polynya is too wide and persistent. In addition, it develops each year, contrary to observations.
doi:10.3402/tellusa.v53i1.12175 fatcat:cul7rkvrfrgmpb6j2ouqu7wrnq