Funder: EC Project Code: 805186
Overall Budget: 2,000,000 EURFunder Contribution: 2,000,000 EUR
Partners: INSTITUT FRANCAIS DE RECHERCHE POUR L'EXPLOITATION DE LA MER
Wave-modulated Arctic Air-sea eXchanges and Turbulence (WAAXT) is a project designed to improve our understanding of ocean boundary layer processes in a changing Arctic Ocean. Sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean has been decreasing since the beginning of the satellite era, meaning that open-water, as opposed to under-ice, oceanographic processes are becoming increasingly important for Arctic dynamics. One of the most fundamental differences between the open and ice-covered oceans is the presence of surface waves. Surface waves and wave-driven processes drastically alter air-sea fluxes, upper-ocean turbulence, and the dominant dynamical balance in the upper ocean. WAAXT will be based on a series of field experiments to study the small-scale processes associated with this emerging wave climate, with a particular focus on near-surface turbulence. Three major effects of wave processes will be targeted: 1) Modification and suppression of ice formation by wave motions and the associated elevated near-surface turbulence. 2) Physical breakup of sea ice by wave motions, and the associated contributions to the modification of air-sea fluxes, upper-ocean structure, and melt rates. 3) Interactions between wave-driven turbulence, especially breaking and Langmuir circulations, with the unique salinity-based stratification in the Arctic basin. A key aspect of these processes is their horizontal variability, which will be captured using a multi-platform approach. Experimental work will begin in a natural laboratory in the Saint Lawrence Estuary and move to the Arctic as scientific and technical capacity is developed. The long-term goal for WAAXT is to produce the data and parameterizations needed to understand climate-scale feedbacks associated with the emerging wave climate in the Arctic basin.