Antarctic Science

M2 tidal dynamics in the Ross Sea

a1 Alfred-Wegener-Institüt für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Postfach 12 0161, D-27515 Bremerhaven, Germany


In certain regions of the Southern Ocean, tidal energy is believed to foster the mixing of different water masses, which eventually contribute to the formation of deep and bottom waters. The Ross Sea is one of the major ventilation sites of the global ocean abyss and a region of sparse tidal observations. We investigated M2 tidal dynamics in the Ross Sea using a three-dimensional sigma coordinate model, the Regional Ocean Model System (ROMS). Realistic topography and hydrography from existing observational data were used with a single tidal constituent, the semi-diurnal M2. The model fields faithfully reproduced the major features of the tidal circulation and had reasonable agreement with ten existing tidal elevation observations and forty-two existing tidal current measurements. The differences were attributed primarily to topographic errors. Internal tides were generated at the continental shelf/slope break and other areas of steep topography. Strong vertical shears in the horizontal velocities occurred under and at the edges of the Ross Ice Shelf and along the continental shelf/slope break. Estimates of lead formation based on divergence of baroclinic velocities were significantly higher than those based on barotrophic velocities, reaching over 10% at the continental shelf/slope break.

(Received February 13 2002)
(Accepted July 30 2002)

Key Words: Antarctica; internal tides; polar; tides.

p1 current address: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA