On the double-diffusive and cabbeling environment of the Arctic Front, West Spitsbergen



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Errata and corrigenda Volume 27, Issue 1, 94, Article first published online: 13 March 2008

Finlo R. Cottier, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratories, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA, UK.
E-mail: fcott@sams.ac.uk.


This paper describes the thermohaline characteristics of the Arctic Front to the west of Spitsbergen, in terms of the double-diffusive environment and the potential for densification through cabbeling. The front separates the warm, saline Atlantic water in the West Spitsbergen Current from the cooler, fresher water on the West Spitsbergen Shelf. We have investigated processes at the front that can contribute to, or enhance, mixing and water mass modification in relation to heat transport to the Arctic. Hydrographic data were collected along a cross-shelf section in September 2005. The double-diffusive properties along the section were determined by calculating Turner angles, and cabbeling was investigated with a simple linear mixing scheme. Double diffusion, in the form of diffusive layering, was found to be active within the Arctic Front, with considerable interleaving between water masses. Furthermore, mixing of water masses across the front was found to generate a potential increase in density of more than 0.03 kg m−3 through cabbeling, which would then promote sinking and convergence. Our analyses indicate that the two processes of double diffusion and cabbeling are active at the Arctic Front. We discuss their potential contribution to maintaining the density-compensated nature of the front, and conclude that they will promote isopycnal mixing and subsequent modification of the core water of the West Spitsbergen Current.