Funds are provided for a numerical modeling study of ocean circulation and ocean-ice interaction in Nares Strait, a 500-km long channel that separates northwest Greenland from Ellesmere Island at the northern end of Baffin Bay. The research addresses both Arctic/sub-Arctic sea-ice and freshwater exchange through Nares Strait. The project is motivated by the observation that Nares Strait is a major conduit of freshwater and sea-ice exchange between the Arctic and sub-Arctic oceans. The PIs will combine a high-resolution regional numerical ocean circulation and sea-ice model, forced by output from a high-resolution regional atmospheric model, to study the ocean and sea-ice dynamics and circulation in Nares Strait. A key element of this study is the availability of a high-quality, multi-year observational data set for model evaluation and for inverse modeling that will allow development of an optimized circulation estimate for the entire strait. With this model they will test the sensitivity of Nares Strait throughflow (freshwater, sea ice, and Atlantic Intermediate Water) to projected changes in larger-scale climate factors.
Although Fram Strait, the opening between Greenland and Svalbard, is often assumed to provide the dominant exchange pathway between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, the narrower passages through the Canadian Archipelago provide a second pathway for flow from the Arctic to the Atlantic Ocean. This study will provide insight on the processes controlling the magnitude of these exchanges, which are believed to influence the formation of dense water in the Labrador Sea that then enters the Atlantic Ocean, contributes to the large scale circulation, and modulates climate.