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Collaborative Research: Dynamics and Variability of Freshwater Components in the Arctic Ocean


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Ocean & fiord systems
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The salinity of water in the Arctic Ocean determines much of its buoyancy and thus how stable the various layers of water are. This is important because stability of the stratification of the ocean determines its circulation, heat transport and formation of deep water, which in turn affect the local and regional climate system, as well as ocean/atmosphere/climate interaction in lower latitudes. Thus understanding the basic processes of the circulation, buildup, and release of lower salinity water (called 'freshwater') is of fundamental importance for understanding future states of the Arctic Ocean. This project will study the dynamics and variability of the freshwater components and the overall freshwater inventories, in the region of the ocean north of Greenland, where water and sea ice ultimately take one of two pathways south. The main goal of the study is to understand how buoyancy is redistributed within the Arctic Ocean and how freshwater accumulates and is released. The project is especially interested in the role distinct freshwater components play in this process. For this purpose data collected as part of the Arctic Observing Network will be compared to model simulations and vice versa to test hypotheses concerning the circulation, accumulation and release of freshwater and its components in the Arctic Ocean and to test the performance of an Arctic Ocean model. This project will create data products for researchers and educators interested in the Arctic and its response to climate change. Circulation patterns of the individual freshwater components and other synthesized outputs, along with information and documentation needed to assist educators, will be made publicly available through an online site that is expected to have significant traffic from educators in academia and secondary school levels. This project will provide the core of a PhD dissertation for a graduate student.