Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: The Atlantic Water Boundary Current in the Eastern Arctic: Composition, Transport, Variability and Dynamics (Award# 1264098)

PI: Pickart, Robert S (
Phone: (508) 289.2858 
Institute/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Physical Oceanography Dept. 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. William Wiseman (
Discipline(s): | Oceanography |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This project will use moored velocity and hydrographic time series to quantify the input of the warm Atlantic Water emanating from Fram Strait into the Arctic Ocean and determine the dynamics of the flow that lead to exchange with interior waters. This is made possible through collaboration with scientists from five international research institutions (known collectively as the ATWAIN project) who will contribute moorings and provide the ship time. Together, 9 moorings will be deployed across the Atlantic Water boundary current for a full year in a configuration that will resolve the relevant dynamical scales of the current. Four of the moorings will be provided by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and five by ATWAIN. The array will be deployed and recovered using a Norwegian ice-strengthened vessel. The funds to fabricate all of the moorings and the technician time to deploy and recover them have already been obtained through a combination of private sources (for the WHOI moorings) and foreign funding agencies (for the ATWAIN moorings). In this proposal the PI is seeking support for (i) participation on the recovery cruise by the PI and a shipboard technician; (ii) processing of the mooring data and shipboard hydrographic/velocity data; (iii) scientific analysis of the resulting observational data in conjunction with the foreign collaborators; (iv) a graduate student to work on the project; and (v) an outreach program. The flow and modification of warm Atlantic Water within the Arctic Ocean contributes to the waters that form the Meridional Overturning Circulation, sometimes known as the ocean conveyor belt that helps regulate the global climate system. This project will significantly enhance our understanding of processes contributing to the warm-to-cold transformation taking place in the Eurasian Arctic.

Logistics Summary:
This project will obtain a quantitative description of the water mass composition, kinematics, and dynamics of the Atlantic Water (AW) boundary current in the eastern Arctic Ocean over an annual cycle in order to elucidate the role of the current in regulating the Arctic system. This will allow improved interpretation of historical and future measurements taken along the periphery of the Arctic basin, and advance the ability of models to depict and understand the AW circulation. Through a partnership between WHOI, IMR, NPI, UT, UNIS, and IOPAS, an array of nine moorings was deployed in 2012 across the continental slope in the eastern Arctic to measure the AW boundary current. The mooring array was located near 30oE in the Norwegian EEZ, roughly 600 km downstream of Fram Strait from September 2012 to September 2013. The work was carried out on the Norwegian ice-strengthened vessel R/V Lance. ATWAIN provided five of the moorings and WHOI provided four. In 2013, the PI and a technician, along with a writer and photographer, participated in the recovery cruise. Data processing and analysis will continue for the remainder of the grant.

All logistics will be arranged and paid for through the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2013Arctic Ocean and Seas - Fram Strait09 / 09 / 2013 09 / 13 / 20134

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