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The Cryosphere








Coastal polynyas in the Ross Sea are important source regions of high-salinity shelf water (HSSW) – the precursor of Antarctic Bottom Water that supplies the lower limb of the thermohaline circulation. Here, the response of sea ice production and HSSW formation to synoptic-scale and mesoscale cyclones was investigated for the Ross Ice Shelf Polynya (RISP) using a coupled ocean–sea ice–ice shelf model targeted on the Ross Sea. When synoptic-scale cyclones prevailed over RISP, sea ice production (SIP) increased rapidly by 20 %–30 % over the entire RISP. During the passage of mesoscale cyclones, SIP increased by about 2 times over the western RISP but decreased over the eastern RISP, resulting respectively from enhancement in the offshore and onshore winds. HSSW formation mainly occurred in the western RISP and was enhanced responding to the SIP increase under both types of cyclones. Promoted HSSW formation could persist for 12–60 h after the decay of the cyclones. The HSSW exports across the Drygalski Trough and the Glomar Challenger Trough were positively correlated with the meridional wind. Such correlations are mainly controlled by variations in geostrophic ocean currents that result from sea surface elevation change and density differences.


© Authors 2023.

This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License.

Data Availability

Article states: "The model data that support the findings of this study are available at (last access: 3 February 2023; Wang, 2022). More details about other observed data are presented in Sect. 2."

Original Publication Citation

Wang, X., Zhang, Z., Dinniman, M. S., Uotila, P., Li, X., & Zhou, M. (2023). The response of sea ice and high-salinity shelf water in the Ross Ice Shelf Polynya to cyclonic atmosphere circulations. The Cryosphere, 17(3), 1107-1126.


0000-0001-7519-9278 (Dinniman)


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