A Change of Seasonality of the Upper Arctic Ocean in Response to Atmospheric and Sea Ice Forcing


The PI proposes to investigate the change of seasonality of the Arctic Ocean Ekman transport and upwelling/downwelling, and their relationships to key components of the arctic system. A systematic investigation of the Arctic Ocean upwelling and its change of seasonality is needed in order to understand complex interactions among components of a rapidly changing arctic system. Upwelling is arguably the single most important dynamical variable in oceanography. It forces oceanic gyres through the Sverdrup balance. Upwelling replenishes nutrients in the surface layer and helps to sustain phytoplankton production. It is a conduit for heat flux from the warm Atlantic Water layer of the Arctic Ocean to the mixed layer, where it influences the sea ice thermodynamics and the atmospheric circulation. Upwelling and Ekman transport affect the surface salinity and thus play roles in the oceanic thermohaline circulation. The most intense upwelling occurs along the Arctic coast, so a change of upwelling seasonality can influence land processes, such as the permafrost in nearshore sediments. Daily Ekman transport and upwelling from 1979 to 2006 have been estimated using satellite and buoy observations. This dataset will be updated, validated and made available to the community in the first year of this project. The PI will quantify the changes in seasonality of the Ekman layer, and examine how they are related to the decline in sea-ice cover and to oscillatory climate modes (such as the Arctic Oscillation). The impacts of the changes in seasonality of upwelling on the chlorophyll concentration, mixed-layer temperature and salinity will be examined.


Atmospheric science
Physical oceanography
Sea ice
System science


Arctic System Science Program


Arctic Ocean

Funding Agency:

National Science Foundation

Funding Solicitation/Announcement:

Changing Seasonality in the Arctic System (CSAS): NSF 08-567

Unique Project Identifier (Grant #, Project #, Other):


Grant/Project Funding Amount:

Jiayan Yang
Jiayan Yang, PI
Department of Physical Oceanography
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Mail Stop 21
Clark 303A
Woods Hole , Massachusetts USA

Journal Publications

Yang, J. (2009), "Seasonal and interannual variability of downwelling in the Beaufort Sea", J. Geophys. Res., 114, C00A14, doi:10.1029/2008JC005084.

Pickart, R.S., G.W.K. Moore, D.J. Torres, P.S. Fratantoni, R.A. Goldsmith, and J. Yang (2009), "Upwelling on the continental slope of the Alaskan Beaufort Sea: Storms, ice, and oceanographic response", J. Geophys. Res., 114, C00A13, doi:10.1029/2008JC005009.


"A Change of Seasonality of the Upper Arctic Ocean in Response to Atmospheric and Sea Ice Forcing" Download PDF (3.14 MB)


Yang, J., "Interannual Variability of the Arctic Ocean Ekman Transport and Upwelling" Download PDF (944 KB).