Physical drivers

The Barents Sea is an important gateway between the North Atlantic and the central Arctic Ocean, with inflow of Atlantic Water from the South and Arctic Water from the rapidly changing Arctic Ocean. A firm understanding of the physical climate system in this region is a fundamental building block for sustainable management, and prognostic models for the Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic.

Hypothesis: The state and variability of the Barents Sea is set by a competition between cold Arctic Water, and warm Atlantic water, modulated by variability in sea ice cover and atmospheric forcing.

The Physical Drivers work package investigates how the northern Barents Sea is influenced by different water masses, and how local physical processes redistribute and modify the forcing from adjacent areas. The work package addresses the following overarching tasks:

  • Measure and analyze fluxes of sea ice, water masses, momentum and heat into the northern Barents Sea and Fram Strait
  • Perform process studies to investigate the atmospheric, oceanographic, radiative and other physical controls on sea ice and stratification in the northern Barents Sea
  • Produce high-resolution time series of sea ice and ocean climate properties in the northern Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Ocean based on state-of-the-art organic, inorganic and biological proxy methods
  • Combine global and regional climate simulations, idealized sensitivity experiments, 1D modeling and analysis of long data series to quantify the relative influence of large-scale forcing factors and local processes on the ice-ocean-atmosphere system

The work package aims hence at improving the understanding of variability from past climatic periods to time scales of hours for selected key processes.

The work package is a fundamental part of the Nansen Legacy since a thorough understanding of the physical control on transports and redistribution of energy and matter is needed to understand the environmental conditions for the present ecosystem as well as distribution of pollutants and ocean acidification.