Wind-driven ocean dynamics impact on the contrasting sea-ice trends around West Antarctica

Sang Ki Lee, Denis L. Volkov, Hosmay Lopez, Woo Geun Cheon, Arnold L. Gordon, Yanyun Liu, Rik Wanninkhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Since late 1978, Antarctic sea-ice extent in the East Pacific has retreated persistently over the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas in warm seasons, but expanded over the Ross and Amundsen Seas in cold seasons, while almost opposite seasonal trends have occurred in the Atlantic over the Weddell Sea. By using a surface-forced ocean and sea-ice coupled model, we show that regional wind-driven ocean dynamics played a key role in driving these trends. In the East Pacific, the strengthening Southern Hemisphere (SH) westerlies in the region enhanced the Ekman upwelling of warm upper Circumpolar Deep Water and increased the northward Ekman transport of cold Antarctic surface water. The associated surface ocean warming south of 68°S and the cooling north of 68°S directly contributed to the retreat of sea-ice in warm seasons and the expansion in cold seasons, respectively. In the Atlantic, the poleward shifting SH westerlies in the region strengthened the northern branch of the Weddell Gyre, which in turn increased the meridional thermal gradient across it as constrained by the thermal wind balance. Ocean heat budget analysis further suggests that the strengthened northern branch of the Weddell Gyre acted as a barrier against the poleward ocean heat transport, and thus produced anomalous heat divergence within the Weddell Gyre and anomalous heat convergence north of the gyre. The associated cooling within the Weddell Gyre and the warming north of the gyre contributed to the expansion of sea-ice in warm seasons and the retreat in cold seasons, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4413-4430
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Amundsen Sea
  • Antarctic sea-ice trend
  • Bellingshausen Sea
  • ocean and sea-ice modeling
  • ocean dynamics
  • Weddell Gyre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


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