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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2012, Article ID 201818, 11 pages
Research Article

Tracing Atlantic Water Signature in the Arctic Sea Ice Cover East of Svalbard

1Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg 199397, Russia
2International Arctic Research Centre, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
3Scottish Marine Institute, Oban PA37 1 QA, UK
4A.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics of RAS, Moscow 119017, Russia
5Institute of Oceanography, University of Hamburg, 20146, Hamburg, Germany

Received 7 February 2012; Revised 20 March 2012; Accepted 22 March 2012

Academic Editor: Igor N. Esau

Copyright © 2012 Vladimir V. Ivanov et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We focus on the Arctic Ocean between Svalbard and Franz Joseph Land in order to elucidate the possible role of Atlantic water (AW) inflow in shaping ice conditions. Ice conditions substantially affect the temperature regime of the Spitsbergen archipelago, particularly in winter. We test the hypothesis that intensive vertical mixing at the upper AW boundary releases substantial heat upwards that eventually reaches the under-ice water layer, thinning the ice cover. We examine spatial and temporal variation of ice concentration against time series of wind, air temperature, and AW temperature. Analysis of 1979–2011 ice properties revealed a general tendency of decreasing ice concentration that commenced after the mid-1990s. AW temperature time series in Fram Strait feature a monotonic increase after the mid-1990s, consistent with shrinking ice cover. Ice thins due to increased sensible heat flux from AW; ice erosion from below allows wind and local currents to more effectively break ice. The winter spatial pattern of sea ice concentration is collocated with patterns of surface heat flux anomalies. Winter minimum sea ice thickness occurs in the ice pack interior above the AW path, clearly indicating AW influence on ice thickness. Our study indicates that in the AW inflow region heat flux from the ocean reduces the ice thickness.