Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1977
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1977
09 Jul 2024
 | 09 Jul 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Formation and fate of freshwater on an ice floe in the Central Arctic

Madison M. Smith, Niels Fuchs, Evgenii Salganik, Donald K. Perovich, Ian Raphael, Mats A. Granskog, Kirstin Schulz, Matthew D. Shupe, and Melinda Webster

Abstract. The melt of snow and sea ice during the Arctic summer is a significant source of relatively fresh meltwater in the central Arctic. The fate of this freshwater – whether in surface melt ponds, or thin layers underneath the ice and in leads – impacts atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions and their subsequent coupled evolution. Here, we combine analyses of datasets from the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition (June–July, 2020) to understand the key drivers of the sea ice freshwater budget in the Central Arctic and the fate of this water over time. Freshwater budget analyses suggest that a relatively high fraction (58 %) is derived from surface melt. Additionally, the contribution from stored precipitation (snowmelt) significantly outweighs by five times the input from in situ summer precipitation (rain). The magnitude and rate of local meltwater production are remarkably similar to that observed on the prior Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) campaign. A relatively small fraction (10 %) of freshwater from melt remains in ponds, which is higher on more deformed second-year ice compared to first-year ice later in the summer. Most meltwater drains via lateral and vertical drainage channels, with vertical drainage enabling storage of freshwater internally in the ice by freshening of brine channels. In the upper ocean, freshwater can accumulate in transient meltwater layers on the order of 10 cm to 1 m thick in leads and under the ice. The presence of such layers substantially impacts the coupled system by reducing bottom melt and allowing false bottom growth, reducing heat, nutrient and gas exchange, and influencing ecosystem productivity. Regardless, the majority fraction of freshwater from melt is inferred to be ultimately incorporated into upper ocean (75 %) or stored internally in the ice (14 %). Comparison of key source and sink terms with estimates from the CESM2 climate model suggest that simulated freshwater storage in melt ponds is dramatically underestimated. This suggests pond drainage terms should be investigated as a likely explanation.

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Madison M. Smith, Niels Fuchs, Evgenii Salganik, Donald K. Perovich, Ian Raphael, Mats A. Granskog, Kirstin Schulz, Matthew D. Shupe, and Melinda Webster

Status: open (until 28 Aug 2024)

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Madison M. Smith, Niels Fuchs, Evgenii Salganik, Donald K. Perovich, Ian Raphael, Mats A. Granskog, Kirstin Schulz, Matthew D. Shupe, and Melinda Webster
Madison M. Smith, Niels Fuchs, Evgenii Salganik, Donald K. Perovich, Ian Raphael, Mats A. Granskog, Kirstin Schulz, Matthew D. Shupe, and Melinda Webster

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Short summary
The fate of freshwater from Arctic sea ice and snow melt impacts interactions of the atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean. We complete a comprehensive analysis of datasets from a Central Arctic field campaign in 2020 to understand the drivers of the sea ice freshwater budget and the fate of this water. Over half of the freshwater comes from surface melt, and a majority fraction is incorporated into the ocean. Results suggest that the representation of melt ponds is a key area for future development.