Small-scale variability of the cross-shelf flow over the outer shelf of the Ross Sea

Josh Kohut, Elias Hunter, Bruce Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The importance of cross-shelf transport across the Ross Sea on local and remote processes has been well documented. In the Ross Sea, mid-water intrusions of Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) are modified by shelf water near the shelf break to form Modified Circumpolar Deep Water (MCDW). In 2010-2011, we deployed multi-platform technologies focused on this MCDW intrusion in the vicinity of Mawson and Pennell Banks to better understand its role in ecosystem processes across the shelf. The high-resolution time and space sampling provided by an underwater glider, a short-term mooring, and a ship-based survey highlight the scales over which these critical cross-shelf transport processes occur. MCDW cores were observed as small-scale well-defined features over the western slopes of Pennell and Mawson Banks. The mean transport along Pennell Bank was estimated to be about 0.24 Sv but was highly variable in time (hours to days). The observations suggest that the core of MCDW is transported by a predominately barotropic flow that follows topography around the banks toward the south until the slope of the bank flattens and the warmer water moves up and over the bank. This pathway is shown to link the source MCDW with an area of high productivity over the shallows of Pennell Bank.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1863-1876
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


  • MCDW
  • Ross Sea
  • small-scale variability
  • transport


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