Confluence and redistribution of Atlantic water in the Nansen, Amundsen and Makarov basins
The waters in the Eurasian Basin are conditioned by the confluence of the boundary flow of warm, saline Fram Strait water and cold low salinity water from the Barents Sea entering through the St. Anna Trough. Hydrographic sections obtained from RV Polarstern during the summer of 1996 (ACSYS 96) across the St. Anna Trough and the Voronin Trough in the northern Kara Sea and across the Nansen, Amundsen and Makarov basins allow for the determination of the water mass properties of the two components and the construction of a qualitative picture of the circulation both within the Eurasian Basin and towards the Canadian Basin. At the confluence north of the Kara Sea, the Fram Strait branch is displaced from the upper to the lower slope and it forms a sharp front to the Barents Sea water at depths between 100 m and greater than 1000 m. This front disintegrates downstream along the basin margin and the two components are largely mixed before the boundary current reaches the Lomonosov Ridge. Away from the continental slope, the presence of interleaving structures coherent over wide distances is consistent with low lateral shear. The return flow along the Nansen Gakkel Ridge, if present at all, seems to be slow and the cold water below a deep mixed layer there indicates that the Fram Strait Atlantic water was not covered with a halocline for about a decade. Anomalous water mass properties in the interior of the Eurasian Basin can be attributed to isolated lenses rather than to baroclinic flow cores. Eddies have probably detached from the front at the confluence and migrated into the interior of the basin. One deep (2500 m) lens of Canadian Basin water, with an anticyclonic eddy signature, must have spilled through a gap of the Lomonosov Ridge. During ACSYS 96, no clear fronts between Eurasian and Canadian intermediate waters, such as those observed further north in 1991 and 1994, were found at the Siberian side of the Lomonosov Ridge. This indicates that the Eurasian Basin waters enter the Canadian Basin not only along the continental slope but they may also cross the Lomonosov Ridge at other topographic irregularities. A decrease in salinity around 1000 m in depth in the Amundsen Basin probably originates from a larger input of fresh water to the Barents Sea. The inherent density changes may affect the flow towards the Canadian Basin.
Key words. Oceanography: general (Artic and Antartic oceanography; descriptive and regional oceanography) Oceanography: physical (hydrography)