On the freshwater transport through the southwest Canadian Arctic Archipelago due to buoyancy and wind forcing




Arfeuille, Gilles

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The freshwater input from the Arctic into the North Atlantic is an important component of the global climate system through its effects on deepwater formation. Part of this freshwater is transported through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) via sea ice and low density surface water, where it is able to set up buoyancy boundary currents (BBCs). To infer the existence of freshwater transport via BBCs in the southwest CAA, data are examined from summer cruises conducted in 1995, 1999, and 2000. The hydrographic data are supplemented with traditional knowledge relevant to this study. The presence, predominantly on the south side of channels, of driftwood originating from the Mackenzie River confirms an eastward transport through the region. The hydrographic data also show that the southwest CAA is relatively fresh compared to surrounding regions, and that the sources of buoyancy forcing are large and from different origins. The presence of BBCs on both sides of the channels appears to be a frequent occurrence with, as shown in previous work, the fresher water being more often present on the south shore. Some data from the summer 2000 show a different feature with much fresher water on the north side. A subsequent strong wind event creates a complete reversal of this situation, setting up a strong cross-channel horizontal salinity gradient and an amplified BBC on the south shore. In this region, buoyancy and wind forcing act together to force an eastward freshwater transport in the southwest CAA.



Freshwater, Arctic, Global climate system, Freshwater transport, Canadian Arctic Archipelago