Cascades of dense water around the world ocean

Ivanov, V.V.; Shapiro, G.I.; Huthnance, J.M. ORCID:; Aleynik, D.L.; Golovin, P.N.. 2004 Cascades of dense water around the world ocean. Progress in Oceanography, 60 (1). 47-98.

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Dense water overflow off continental shelves (cascading) is one of the contributing processes of shelf-deep ocean exchange, and of topical interest to climate studies and nutrient fluxes. Dense water originating from cooling, evaporation, freezing and salinization on a shallow shelf spills over the shelf edge and may develop as near-bottom gravity current or an intermediate-depth intrusion. It is difficult to observe in nature due to its intermittent character. This paper provides an extensive inventory of observed cases of water cascades around the World Ocean, summarises their locations and individual properties, and provides statistics of the identified cases. The search for cascading was carried out using oceanographic databases and a literature review. This study identified 61 confirmed cases world-wide, including 25 cases in the Arctic seas, 12 at mid-latitudes, seven in sub-tropical and tropical regions, and 17 off the Antarctic shelves. Eighteen cascades had not been reported before. We analyze a set of numerical parameters of dense water cascades, allowing us to quantify, compare and contrast the properties of water cascades. The overall average density contrast between the confirmed cascades and ambient water is 0.37 (kg/m3); it can be as much as 2 (kg/m3) on some Arctic shelves. Frequently initiated by strong cooling at the surface, cascades often remain colder through the descent, thus supplying the deep ocean with colder and fresher water. In non-dimensional variables, the data from all climate zones fit well to a unique curve, which represents a relationship between a cascade’s internal structure and the parameters describing its forcing. On average, the down-slope volumetric flux provided by dense water cascades is estimated as 0.05 to 0.08 Sv per 100 km of shelf edge.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: POL Programmes
ISSN: 00796611
Additional Keywords: Arctic, Antarctic, North Atlantic Ocean, Barents Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Skagerrak, Tasman Sea, Sea of Okhotsk
Date made live: 28 Jun 2013 14:55 +0 (UTC)

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