National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2007

Some controls on flow and salinity in Bering Strait

Aagaard, K., T.J. Weingartner, S.L. Danielson, R.A. Woodgate, G.C. Johnson, and T.E. Whitledge

Geophys. Res. Lett., 33(19), L19602, doi: 10.1029/2006GL026612 (2006)

During 1993–1994, steric forcing of flow through Bering Strait represented a northward sea level drop of ~0.7mfrom the Bering Sea Basin to the adjacent deep Arctic Ocean, of which ~2/3 was due to the salinity difference between the basins. Seasonal variability of steric forcing appears small (<0.05 m), in contrast to large seasonal wind effects. Interannual changes in steric forcing may exceed 20%, however, and warm inflow from the North Atlantic, accumulation of freshwater in the southwest Canada Basin, and temperature and salinity changes in the upper Bering Sea have all contributed to recent changes. The mean salinity balance in Bering Strait is primarily maintained by large runoff to the Bering shelf, dilute coastal inflow from the Gulf of Alaska, and on-shelf movement of saline and nutrient-rich oceanic waters from the Bering Sea Basin. In Bering Strait, therefore, both the throughflowand its salinity are affected by remote events.

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