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Thanks very much for the comments so far everyone! It's very inspiring to observe this active sea ice blogging community, and many of the ideas discussed here (and in other blog entries) have definitely given me food for thought. Just a response to a few comments: wayne - yes, I should have made it clearer that this mean anticyclonic (clockwise) circulation is the average of very variable ice circulation patterns, including cyclonic (anti-clockwise) drifts on occasion. I've not looked to see if those cyclonic drift patterns (holding the sea ice in the Beaufort) have increased in recent years - as you suggest - but I find the idea of storms contributing to this an interesting one for sure. Young flat sea ice with more pronounced sails was represented by mechanism 3 in Figure 5. I still expect this to contribute to a reduction in drag compared to the rougher multi-year ice, despite the sails being less weathered. I'm actively looking into this at the moment, however! D - good point about the importance of repeated wind patterns. And you're right we need more direct observations to understand the freshwater/salt budgets. I was involved with a cruise around the Beaufort Gyre (the same one mentioned by Chris Reynolds) which is trying to do just that. The cruise is limited to late summer, but many of the buoys and the moorings, give us year-round data. More data would be nice though! Aaron - good point about the stirring. People are actively trying to work out what a younger, thinner sea ice cover might do to momentum transfer into the Arctic Ocean (stirring of the ocean if you like). A new paper came out in the same journal last month by some colleagues of mine ( I briefly mentioned in the blog. They concluded that the ice-ocean stress may be reducing (on average across the Arctic) due to the decreased roughness of the younger ice. This was a model study, however, so we still need to figure out how realistic those results were. There definitely is more heat being absorbed by the upper ocean (thinner ice and more open water) which would make that freshwater lens more stable as it's lighter and thus more buoyant, as you said. The cold layer of Atlantic water below this means the sea ice is somewhat protected from the warmer Pacific Water that resides deeper in the water column. Clearly an idea worth exploring more though. fryingpan136 - I would say this is a huge unknown! We don't know how much the removal of that insulating 'sea ice lid' will change the Arctic atmosphere/circulation patterns. Clearly there is a lot more heat/moisture being exchanged with the atmosphere now - but I'm not sure exactly what that might do to the location/strength of the BG? Maybe it could become more variable in strength and location? Chris - I agree with the points about the MYI export variable and melt out increasing in recent years (perhaps's doesn't even matter if it's MYI or FYI, it looks like a lot of that doesn't survive the summer in the Chukchi and ESS as you say). Not sure this will lead to a collapse of the BG flywheel, as that still depends on the wind forcing and ability of the winds to maintain a spun-up ocean, however?
Toggle Commented May 25, 2016 on Beaufort Gyre guest blog at Arctic Sea Ice
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May 24, 2016