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Laura Crews

Research Assistant





Department Affiliation

Ocean Physics


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Direct observations of the role of lateral advection of sea ice meltwater in the onset of autumn freeze up

Crews, L., C.M. Lee, L. Rainville, and J. Thomson, "Direct observations of the role of lateral advection of sea ice meltwater in the onset of autumn freeze up," J. Geophys. Res., 127, doi:10.1029/2021JC017775, 2022.

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1 Feb 2022

In seasonally ice-free parts of the Arctic Ocean, autumn is characterized by heat loss from the upper ocean to the atmosphere and the onset of freeze up, in which first year sea ice begins to grow in open water areas. The timing of freeze up can be highly spatially variable, complicating efforts to provide accurate sea ice forecasting for marine operations. While melt season anomalies can be used to predict freeze up anomalies in some parts of the Arctic, this one-dimensional view merits further examination in light of recent work demonstrating the importance of three-dimensional flows in setting mixed layer properties in marginal ice zones. In this study, we show that horizontal advection of sea ice meltwater hastens freeze up in areas distant from the ice edge. We use nearly 800 temperature and salinity profiles along with satellite imagery collected in the central Beaufort Sea in autumn 2018 to document the roughly 100 km advection of a cold and fresh surface meltwater layer over several weeks. After the meltwater arrived, the mixed layer was cooler and shallower than the mixed layer in adjacent areas unaffected by the meltwater. The cooler and shallower meltwater-influenced mixed layer promoted earlier ice formation. Within the meltwater-affected area, advection was nearly as important as heat loss to the atmosphere for seasonally integrated mixed layer heat loss.

Properties and dynamics of mesoscale eddies in Fram Strait from a comparison between two high-resolution ocean–sea ice models

Wekerle, C., T. Hattermann, Q. Wang, L. Crews, W.-J. Von Appen, and S. Danilov, "Properties and dynamics of mesoscale eddies in Fram Strait from a comparison between two high-resolution ocean–sea ice models," Ocean Sci., 16, 1225-1246, doi:10.5194/os-16-1225-2020, 2020.

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23 Oct 2020

Fram Strait, the deepest gateway to the Arctic Ocean, is strongly influenced by eddy dynamics. Here we analyse the output from two eddy-resolving models (ROMS – Regional Ocean Modeling System; FESOM – Finite-Element Sea-ice Ocean Model) with around 1 km mesh resolution in Fram Strait, with a focus on their representation of eddy properties and dynamics. A comparison with mooring observations shows that both models reasonably simulate hydrography and eddy kinetic energy. Despite differences in model formulation, they show relatively similar eddy properties. The eddies have a mean radius of 4.9 and 5.6 km in ROMS and FESOM, respectively, with slightly more cyclones (ROMS: 54%, FESOM: 55%) than anticyclones. The mean lifetime of detected eddies is relatively short in both simulations (ROMS: 10 d, FESOM: 11 d), and the mean travel distance is 35 km in both models. More anticyclones are trapped in deep depressions or move toward deep locations. The two models show comparable spatial patterns of baroclinic and barotropic instability. ROMS has relatively stronger eddy intensity and baroclinic instability, possibly due to its smaller grid size, while FESOM has stronger eddy kinetic energy in the West Spitsbergen Current. Overall, the relatively good agreement between the two models strengthens our confidence in their ability to realistically represent the Fram Strait ocean dynamics and also highlights the need for very high mesh resolution.

How the Yermak Pass branch regulates Atlantic water inflow to the Arctic Ocean

Crews, L., A. Sundfjord, and T. Hattermann, "How the Yermak Pass branch regulates Atlantic water inflow to the Arctic Ocean," J. Geophys. Res., EOR, doi:10.1029/2018JC014476, 2018.

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11 Dec 2018

The Yermak Plateau is a topographic obstacle which warm water in the West Spitsbergen Current (Atlantic Water) must pass in order to enter the Arctic Ocean. The main route for Atlantic Water to cross the Yermak Plateau is the Yermak Pass Branch, a winter‐intensified pathway characterized by pulse‐like high‐transport events. Here we use an eddy‐resolving sea ice and ocean model to investigate oceanographic conditions that promote flow over the Yermak Plateau. Yermak Pass Branch pulses were associated with a warmer, faster West Spitsbergen Current; these conditions created a region of high offshore Ertel potential vorticity upstream of the plateau. As potential vorticity was low in the current itself, this region of high offshore potential vorticity acted as a barrier that guided flow onto the plateau. During times of enhanced recirculation in Fram Strait, this offshore potential vorticity barrier was weaker, likely allowing the current to deflect away from the continental slope. Through this potential vorticity mechanism, the upstream hydrography of the West Spitsbergen Current can determine how much Atlantic Water crosses the plateau, implying that less dense West Spitsbergen Current core water promotes more inflow into the Arctic Ocean and less recirculation in Fram Strait.

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center