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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
08 May 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).
Observations of brine plumes below Arctic sea ice
Algot K. Peterson 1Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Norway
2Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Norway
Abstract. In sea ice, interconnected pockets and channels of brine are surrounded by fresh ice. Over time, brine is lost by gravity drainage and flushing. The timing of salt release and its interaction with the underlying water can impact subsequent sea ice melt. Turbulence measurements 1 m below melting sea ice north of Svalbard reveal anti-correlated heat and salt fluxes. From the observations, 131 salty plumes descending from the warm sea ice are identified, confirming previous observations from a Svalbard fjord. The plumes are likely triggered by oceanic heat through bottom melt. Calculated over a composite plume, oceanic heat- and salt fluxes during the plumes account for 6 % and 9 % of the total fluxes, respectively, while only lasting in total 0.5 % of the time. The observed salt flux accumulates to 7.6 kg m−2, indicating nearly full desalination of the ice. Bulk salinity reduction between two nearby ice cores agree with accumulated salt fluxes to within factor of two. The increasing fraction of younger, more saline ice in the Arctic suggests an increase in desalination processes with the transition to the new Arctic.

Citation: Peterson, A. K.: Observations of brine plumes below Arctic sea ice, Ocean Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/os-2017-27, in review, 2017.
Algot K. Peterson
Algot K. Peterson

Data sets

N-ICE2015 Ocean turbulent fluxes from under-ice turbulence cluster (TIC) [v1.0]
A. K. Petersonemail, I. Fer, A. Randelhoff, A. Meyer, L. Håvik, L. H. Smedsrud, I. Onarheim, M. Muilwijk, A. Sundfjord, and M. G. McPhee
N-ICE2015 ocean microstructure profiles (MSS90L)
A. Meyeremail, I. Fer, A. Sundfjord, A. K. Peterson, L. H. Smedsrud, M. Muilwijk, A. Randelhoff, L. Håvik, Z. Koenig, I. Onarheim, P. Davis, J. Miguet, and N. Kusse-Tiuz
N-ICE2015 surface meteorology [v2]
S. R. Hudsonemail, L. Cohenemail, Von Walden
N-ICE2015 ice thickness from hot wires
A. Rösel, M. Bratrein, J. A. King, P. Itkin, D. Divine, Å. Ervik, J.-C. Gallet, A. Gierisch, J. Haapala, A. Oikkonen, G. E. Liston, M. Nicolaus, C. M. Polashenski, G. Spreen, S. Gerlandemail, M. A. Granskog, and D. Perovich
N-ICE2015 ice core physics: temperature, salinity and density
S. Gerlandemail, M. A. Granskog, J. King, and A. Rösel
Algot K. Peterson


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study presents observations of brine descending from melting Arctic sea ice. The brine passed an under-ice turbulence instrument in plumes, and was associated with very high heat fluxes. The salt flux indicates the melting sea ice lost most of its salt content during the observations. The observations provide evidence of a desalination process not previously reported from drifting Arctic sea ice, and is an important contribution to understanding ice-ocean interaction during melt.
This study presents observations of brine descending from melting Arctic sea ice. The brine...