Arctic Ocean Circulation in an Idealized Numerical Model

Peter Sugimura, S.M., 2008
Peter Winsor, Advisor

The mid-to-deep Arctic Ocean is generally characterized by a cyclonic circulation, contained along shelves and ridges. Here we analyze the general Arctic circulation using an idealized numerical model consisting of a circular basin with two channels acting as inflow and outflow. We analyze the circulation (direction, strength and sensitivity) for wind forcing with and without bathymetry (ridges), and with and without stratification. We find that the circulation is modified drastically by both bathymetry and wind direction, where an altered wind field can change both the direction of the horizontal basin circulation as well as the strength of the inflow and outflow. The idealized circulations imply that the Arctic circulation, and the associated export of freshwater, can easily switch states in a changing climate.