Ocean Sci. Discuss., 6, 1437-1475, 2009
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in OS.
Barents Sea heat – transport, storage and surface fluxes
L. H. Smedsrud1, R. Ingvaldsen1,2, J. E. Ø. Nilsen1,3, and Ø. Skagseth1,2
1Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
2Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Norway
3Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre, Bergen, Norway

Abstract. Sensitivity of the Barents Sea to variation in ocean heat transport and surface fluxes is explored using a 1-D column model. Mean monthly ocean transport and atmospheric forcing are synthesised and force model results that reproduce the observed winter convection and surface warming and freshening well. Model results are compared to existing estimates of the ocean to air heat fluxes and horizontally averaged profiles for the southern and northern Barents Sea.

Our results indicate that the ~70 TW of heat transported to the Barents Sea by ocean currents is lost in the southern Barents Sea as latent, sensible, and long wave radiation, each contributing 23–39 TW to the total heat loss. Solar radiation adds 26 TW in the south, as there is no significant ice production.

The northern Barents Sea, the major part of the area, receives little ocean heat transport. This leads to a mixed layer at the freezing point during winter and significant ice production. There is little net surface heat loss in the north, the balance is achieved by long wave loss removing most of the solar heating, and the model also suggests a positive sensible heat gain.

During the last decade the Barents Sea has experienced an atmospheric warming and an increased ocean heat transport. Despite large changes the Barents Sea heat loss remains robust, the temperature adjusts, and the yearly cycle remains. Decreasing the ocean heat transport below 50 TW starts a transition towards Arctic conditions. The heat loss in the Barents Sea depend on the effective area for cooling, and an increased heat transport probably leads to a spreading of warm water further north.

Citation: Smedsrud, L. H., Ingvaldsen, R., Nilsen, J. E. Ø., and Skagseth, Ø.: Barents Sea heat – transport, storage and surface fluxes, Ocean Sci. Discuss., 6, 1437-1475, doi:10.5194/osd-6-1437-2009, 2009.
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