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Ron Kwok

Research Scientist/Engineer - Principal



Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Fluctuating Atlantic inflows modulate Arctic atlanticification

Polyakov, I.V., and 7 others including R. Kwok, "Fluctuating Atlantic inflows modulate Arctic atlanticification," Science, 381, 972-979, doi:10.1126/science.adh5158, 2023.

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31 Aug 2023

Enhanced warm, salty subarctic inflows drive high-latitude atlantification, which weakens oceanic stratification, amplifies heat fluxes, and reduces sea ice. In this work, we show that the atmospheric Arctic Dipole (AD) associated with anticyclonic winds over North America and cyclonic winds over Eurasia modulates inflows from the North Atlantic across the Nordic Seas. The alternating AD phases create a "switchgear mechanism." From 2007 to 2021, this switchgear mechanism weakened northward inflows and enhanced sea-ice export across Fram Strait and increased inflows throughout the Barents Sea. By favoring stronger Arctic Ocean circulation, transferring freshwater into the Amerasian Basin, boosting stratification, and lowering oceanic heat fluxes there after 2007, AD+ contributed to slowing sea-ice loss. A transition to an AD– phase may accelerate the Arctic sea-ice decline, which would further change the Arctic climate system.

Emerging technologies and approaches for in situ, autonomous observing in the Arctic

Lee, C.M., M. DeGrandpre, J. Guthrie, V. Hill, R. Kwok, M.J. Morison, C.J. Cox, H. Singh, T.P. Stanton, and J. Wilkinson, "Emerging technologies and approaches for in situ, autonomous observing in the Arctic," Oceanography, 35, 210-221, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2022.127, 2022.

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1 Dec 2022

Understanding and predicting Arctic change and its impacts on global climate requires broad, sustained observations of the atmosphere-ice-ocean system, yet technological and logistical challenges severely restrict the temporal and spatial scope of observing efforts. Satellite remote sensing provides unprecedented, pan-Arctic measurements of the surface, but complementary in situ observations are required to complete the picture. Over the past few decades, a diverse range of autonomous platforms have been developed to make broad, sustained observations of the ice-free ocean, often with near-real-time data delivery. Though these technologies are well suited to the difficult environmental conditions and remote logistics that complicate Arctic observing, they face a suite of additional challenges, such as limited access to satellite services that make geolocation and communication possible. This paper reviews new platform and sensor developments, adaptations of mature technologies, and approaches for their use, placed within the framework of Arctic Ocean observing needs.

Changes in Arctic Ocean circulation from in situ and remotely sensed observations: Synergies and sampling challenges

Morison, J., R. Kwok, and I. Rigor, "Changes in Arctic Ocean circulation from in situ and remotely sensed observations: Synergies and sampling challenges," Oceanography, 35, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2022.111, 2022.

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1 Jun 2022

Both in situ and remote sensing observations of Arctic Ocean hydrography and circulation have improved dramatically in recent decades, and combining the two can yield the most complete picture of Arctic Ocean change. Recent results derived from classical hydrography and satellite ocean altimetry illustrate this synergy and also reveal a fundamental in situ sampling challenge.

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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