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Astrid Pacini

Postdoctoral Scholar





Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Yale, 2016

B.S Geology & Geophysics, 2016, 2016

PhD Physical Oceanography, MIT-WHOI, 2021


2000-present and while at APL-UW

The Pacific water flow branches in the eastern Chukchi Sea

Pickart, R.S., and 33 others including A. Pacini, "The Pacific water flow branches in the eastern Chukchi Sea," Prog. Oceanogr., 219, doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2023.103169, 2023.

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1 Dec 2023

The flow of Pacific-origin water across the Chukchi Sea shelf impacts the regional ecosystem in profound ways, yet the two current branches on the eastern shelf that carry the water from Bering Strait to Barrow Canyon — the Alaskan Coastal Current (ACC) and Central Channel (CC) Branch — have not been clearly distinguished or quantified. In this study we use an extensive collection of repeat hydrographic sections occupied at three locations on the Chukchi shelf, together with data from a climatology of shipboard velocity data, to accomplish this. The data were collected predominantly between 2010 and 2020 during the warm months of the year as part of the Distributed Biological Observatory and Arctic Observing Network. The mean sections show that mass is balanced for both currents at the three locations: Bering Strait, Point Hope, and Barrow Canyon. The overall mean ACC transport is 0.34 ± 0.04 Sv, and that of the CC Branch is 0.86 ± 0.11 Sv. The dominant hydrographic variability at Bering Strait is seasonal, but this becomes less evident to the north. At Barrow Canyon, the dominant hydrographic signal is associated with year-to-year variations in sea-ice melt. Farther south there is pronounced mesoscale variability: an empirical orthogonal function analysis at Bering Strait and Point Hope reveals a distinct ACC mode and CC Branch mode in hydrography and baroclinic transport, where the former is wind-driven. Finally, the northward evolution in properties of the two currents is investigated. The poleward increase in salinity of the ACC can be explained by lateral mixing alone, but solar heating together with wind mixing play a large role in the temperature evolution. This same atmospheric forcing also impacts the northward evolution of the CC Branch.

Seasonality of the meridional overturning circulation in the sub polar North Atlantic

Fu, Y., and 25 others including A. Pacini, "Seasonality of the meridional overturning circulation in the sub polar North Atlantic," Commun. Earth Environ., 4, doi:10.1038/s43247-023-00848-9, 2023.

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25 May 2023

Understanding the variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is essential for better predictions of our changing climate. Here we present an updated time series (August 2014 to June 2020) from the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program. The 6-year time series allows us to observe the seasonality of the subpolar overturning and meridional heat and freshwater transports. The overturning peaks in late spring and reaches a minimum in early winter, with a peak-to-trough range of 9.0 Sv. The overturning seasonal timing can be explained by winter transformation and the export of dense water, modulated by a seasonally varying Ekman transport. Furthermore, over 55% of the total meridional freshwater transport variability can be explained by its seasonality, largely owing to overturning dynamics. Our results provide the first observational analysis of seasonality in the subpolar North Atlantic overturning and highlight its important contribution to the total overturning variability observed to date.

Wind-forced upwelling along the West Greenland shelf break: Implications for Labrador Sea water formation

Pacini, A., R.S. Pickart, "Wind-forced upwelling along the West Greenland shelf break: Implications for Labrador Sea water formation," J. Geophys. Res., 128, doi:10.1029/2022JC018952, 2023.

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1 Mar 2023

Arctic-origin and Greenland meltwaters circulate cyclonically in the boundary current system encircling the Labrador Sea. The ability of this freshwater to penetrate the interior basin has important consequences for dense water formation and the lower limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. However, the precise mechanisms by which the freshwater is transported offshore, and the magnitude of this flux, remain uncertain. Here, we investigate wind-driven upwelling northwest of Cape Farewell using 4 years of high-resolution data from the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program west Greenland mooring array, deployed from September 2014–2018, along with Argo, shipboard, and atmospheric reanalysis data. A total of 49 upwelling events were identified corresponding to enhanced northwesterly winds, followed by reduced along-stream flow of the boundary current and anomalously dense water present on the outer shelf. The events occur during the development stage of forward Greenland tip jets. During the storms, a cross-stream Ekman cell develops that transports freshwater offshore in the surface layer and warm, saline, Atlantic-origin waters onshore at depth. The net fluxes of heat and freshwater for a representative storm are computed. Using a one-dimensional mixing model, it is shown that the freshwater input resulting from the locus of winter storms could significantly limit the wintertime development of the mixed layer and hence the production of Labrador Sea Water in the southeastern part of the basin.

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