The Bering Sea: Communication with the Western Subarctic Gyre, Mesoscale Activity, Shelf-Basin Exchange, and the Flow Through Bering Strait
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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A 112th-degree, pan-Arctic ice-ocean numerical model is used to better understand the circulation and exchanges in the Bering Sea. Understanding the physical oceanography of the Bering Sea is significant for the U.S. Navy due to the expected increase in ship traffic and exploration of natural resources that will likely coincide with the ongoing retreat of sea ice in the Western Arctic. This model represents a large step forward in the ability to simulate the mesoscale eddies and meanders in the Alaskan Stream and the deep Bering Sea basin, which are shown to exert a strong control on the flow into and out of the western Aleutian Island passes. Model results show that upwelling of deep Bering Sea water, which is the primary source of nutrients for important ecosystems of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas, is enhanced by the presence of cyclonic eddies in the vicinity of canyons along the slope. High values of eddy kinetic energy in Bering and Anadyr straits help explain the areas of high biological productivity located just downstream in the Chirikov Basin and north of Bering Strait. Model results show significant horizontal and vertical shear in the flow through Bering Strait, and indicate a need for more observations of the flow structure on a continuous basis.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography