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Observed Seasonal Evolution of the Antarctic Slope Current System off the Coast of Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica
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  • Julius Lauber,
  • Laura de Steur,
  • Tore Hattermann,
  • Elin Darelius
Julius Lauber
Norwegian Polar Institute

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Laura de Steur
Norwegian Polar Institute
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Tore Hattermann
Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway
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Elin Darelius
University of Bergen
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The access of heat to the Antarctic ice shelf cavities is regulated by the Antarctic Slope Front, separating relatively warm offshore water masses from cold water masses on the continental slope and inside the cavity. Previous observational studies along the East Antarctic continental slope have identified the drivers and variability of the front and the associated current, but a complete description of their seasonal cycle is currently lacking. In this study, we utilize two years (2019-2020) of observations from two oceanographic moorings east of the prime meridian to further detail the slope front and current seasonality. In combination with climatological hydrography and satellite-derived surface velocity, we identify processes that explain the hydrographic variability observed at the moorings. These processes include (i) an offshore spreading of seasonally formed Antarctic Surface Water, resulting in a lag in salinity and thermocline depth seasonality toward deeper isobaths, and (ii) the crucial role of buoyancy fluxes from sea ice melt and formation for the baroclinic seasonal cycle. Finally, data from two sub-ice-shelf moorings below Fimbulisen show that flow at the main sill into the cavity seasonally coincides with a weaker slope current in spring/summer. The flow is directed out of the cavity in autumn/winter when the slope current is strongest. The refined description of the variability of the slope current and front contributes to a more complete understanding of processes important for ice-shelf-ocean interactions in East Antarctica.
05 Oct 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
17 Oct 2023Published in ESS Open Archive