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Lagrangian modeling of Arctic ocean circulation pathways: impact of advection on spread of pollutants

Lagrangian modeling of Arctic ocean circulation pathways: impact of advection on spread of pollutants
Lagrangian modeling of Arctic ocean circulation pathways: impact of advection on spread of pollutants

Sea-ice-free summers are projected to become a prominent feature of the Arctic environment in the coming decades. From a shipping perspective, this means larger areas of open water in the summer, thinner and less compact ice all year round, and longer operating seasons. Therefore, the possibility for easier navigation along trans-Arctic shipping routes arises. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is one trans-Arctic route, and it offers a potential 10 day shortcut between Western Europe and the Far East. More ships transiting the NSR means an increased risk of an accident, and associated oil spill, occurring. Previous research suggests that current infrastructure is insufficient for increased shipping. Therefore, should an oil spill occur, the window for a successful clean-up will be short. In the event of a failed recovery, the long-term fate of the unrecovered pollutants must be considered, at least until the next melt season when it could become accessible again. Here we investigate the role of oceanic advection in determining the long-term fate of Arctic pollutants using a high-resolution ocean model along with Lagrangian particle-tracking to simulate the spread of pollutants. The resulting “advective footprints” of pollutants are proposed as an informative metric for analyzing such experiments. We characterize the circulation along different parts of the NSR, defining three main regions in the Eurasian Arctic, and relate the distinctive circulation pathways of each to the long-term fate of spilled oil. We conclude that a detailed understanding of ocean circulation is critical for determining the long-term fate of Arctic pollutants.

advective pathways, Arctic circulation, climate change, Northern Sea Route, oil spills, sea-ice retreat
2169-9275
2882-2902
Kelly, S.
5e453908-a436-4e72-87c0-8ddf1a18e53b
Popova, E.
3ea572bd-f37d-4777-894b-b0d86f735820
Aksenov, Y.
1d277047-06f6-4893-8bcf-c2817a9c848e
Marsh, R.
b22ef653-0671-46d5-bf81-21c0d6657974
Yool, A.
882aeb0d-dda0-405e-844c-65b68cce5017
Kelly, S.
5e453908-a436-4e72-87c0-8ddf1a18e53b
Popova, E.
3ea572bd-f37d-4777-894b-b0d86f735820
Aksenov, Y.
1d277047-06f6-4893-8bcf-c2817a9c848e
Marsh, R.
b22ef653-0671-46d5-bf81-21c0d6657974
Yool, A.
882aeb0d-dda0-405e-844c-65b68cce5017

Kelly, S., Popova, E., Aksenov, Y., Marsh, R. and Yool, A. (2018) Lagrangian modeling of Arctic ocean circulation pathways: impact of advection on spread of pollutants. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123 (4), 2882-2902. (doi:10.1002/2017JC013460).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Sea-ice-free summers are projected to become a prominent feature of the Arctic environment in the coming decades. From a shipping perspective, this means larger areas of open water in the summer, thinner and less compact ice all year round, and longer operating seasons. Therefore, the possibility for easier navigation along trans-Arctic shipping routes arises. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is one trans-Arctic route, and it offers a potential 10 day shortcut between Western Europe and the Far East. More ships transiting the NSR means an increased risk of an accident, and associated oil spill, occurring. Previous research suggests that current infrastructure is insufficient for increased shipping. Therefore, should an oil spill occur, the window for a successful clean-up will be short. In the event of a failed recovery, the long-term fate of the unrecovered pollutants must be considered, at least until the next melt season when it could become accessible again. Here we investigate the role of oceanic advection in determining the long-term fate of Arctic pollutants using a high-resolution ocean model along with Lagrangian particle-tracking to simulate the spread of pollutants. The resulting “advective footprints” of pollutants are proposed as an informative metric for analyzing such experiments. We characterize the circulation along different parts of the NSR, defining three main regions in the Eurasian Arctic, and relate the distinctive circulation pathways of each to the long-term fate of spilled oil. We conclude that a detailed understanding of ocean circulation is critical for determining the long-term fate of Arctic pollutants.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 26 March 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 6 April 2018
Published date: April 2018
Keywords: advective pathways, Arctic circulation, climate change, Northern Sea Route, oil spills, sea-ice retreat

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 422056
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/422056
ISSN: 2169-9275
PURE UUID: 36a98994-24ed-4c60-805c-205f6e6aa279

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Date deposited: 13 Jul 2018 16:30
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 05:06

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Contributors

Author: S. Kelly
Author: E. Popova
Author: Y. Aksenov
Author: R. Marsh
Author: A. Yool

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