An investigation of thermohaline circulation in Terra Nova Bay polynya

G. Buffoni, A. Cappelletti, P. Picco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the study of the thermohaline circulation and convective processes induced by the presence of a coastal polynya in Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea, Antarctica). These processes are analysed by means of oceanographic observations and numerical simulations. Time series of hydrological parameters and currents show the High Salinity Shelf Water (HSSW) formation with the mixing of the water column down to great depths, and a seasonal cycle of kinetic energy. A two-dimensional time dependent model for the numerical simulation of the effects of polynya on the circulation has been implemented. This model allows estimation of the contribution of thermohaline forcing on the circulation pattern, the amount of ice production consistent with the observed salinity distribution and annual cycle of currents and the amount of HSSW exported. The thermohaline forcing due to the polynya is able to induce strong horizontal currents up to 40 cm s-1 near the polynya area, as well as vertical movements of the order of 1 cm s-1. An annual ice production, ranging from 45 m to 90 m, mixes the water column at great depths, up to 750 m, and increases the salinity of the surface incoming waters up to 34.82. The estimated net north-eastward transport of HSSW ranges from 0.34 Sv to 1.23 Sv, depending on ice production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83 - 92
Number of pages10
JournalAntarctic Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this