The Canada Basin 1989-1995 : upstream events and far-field effects of the Barents Sea Branch




McLaughlin, Fiona Ann

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Physical and geochemical tracer measurements were collected at one oceanographic station (Station A: 72 N 143 W) in the southern Canada Basin from 1989 to 1995, along sections from the Beaufort Shelf to this station in 1993 and 1995, and along a section westward of Banks Island in 1995. These measurements were examined to see how recent events in three upstream Arctic Ocean sub-basins impacted upon Canada Basin waters. Upstream events included Atlantic layer warming, relocation of the Atlantic/Pacific water mass boundary, and increased ventilation of boundary current waters. Early signals of change appeared first in the Canada Basin in 1993 along the continental margin and, by 1995, were evident at Station A in the basin interior and farther downstream. Differences in physical and geochemical properties (nutrients, oxygen, ¹²⁹I and CFCs) were observed throughout much of the water column to depths greater than 1600 m. In particular, the boundary distinguishing Pacific from Atlantic-origin water was found to be shallower and Atlantic-origin water occupied more of the Canada Basin water column. By 1995, Atlantic-origin water in the lower halocline at Station A was found to be colder and more ventilated. Likewise, within the Atlantic layer, Fram Strait Branch (FSB) water was colder, fresher, and more ventilated, and Barents Sea Branch (BSB) water was warmer, fresher, and more ventilated than during previous years. By comparing observations at Station A with eastern Nansen Basin observations, the main source of these changes was traced to dense water outflow from the Barents Sea. Studies indicated that in early 1989 Barents Sea waters were 2°C warmer and that, between 1988 and 1989, a large volume of dense water had left the shelf. These events coincided with an atmospheric shift to increased cyclonic circulation in 1989, a transition unprecedented in its magnitude, geographic reach, and apparent oceanographic impact. The effects of a large outflow of dense Barents Sea water were observed some 5000 km away downstream in the Canada Basin where the BSB component of the Atlantic layer had increased 20% by 1995.



Hydrocarbons, Halocarbons, Barents Sea