Preconditioning and Formation of Maud Rise Polynyas in a High-Resolution Earth System Model Academic Article uri icon


  • Open-ocean polynyas (OOPs) in the Southern Ocean are ice-free areas within the winter ice pack that are associated with deep convection, potentially contributing to the formation of Antarctic Bottom Water. To enhance the credibility of Earth system models (ESMs), their ability to simulate OOPs realistically is thus crucial. Here we investigate OOPs that emerge intermittently in a high-resolution (HR) preindustrial simulation with the Energy Exascale Earth System Model, version 0.1 (E3SMv0), an offspring of the Community Earth System Model (CESM). While low-resolution (LR) simulations with E3SMv0 show no signs of OOP formation, the preindustrial E3SMv0-HR simulation produces both large Weddell Sea polynyas (WSPs) as well as small Maud Rise polynyas (MRPs). The latter are associated with a prominent seamount in the eastern Weddell Sea, and their preconditioning and formation is the focus of this study. The steep flanks of the rugged topography in this region are in E3SMv0-HR sufficiently well resolved for the impinging flow to produce pronounced Taylor caps that precondition the region for convection. Aided by an accumulation of heat in the Weddell Deep Water layer, the ultimate trigger of convection that leads to MRPs is the advection of anomalously high upper-ocean-layer salinity. The crucial difference to WSP-producing LR ESM simulations is that in E3SMv0-HR, WSPs are realistically preceded by MRPs, which in turn are a result of the flow around bathymetry being represented with unprecedented detail.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kurtakoti, P., Veneziani, M., Stossel, A., & Weijer, W.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Kurtakoti, Prajvala||Veneziani, Milena||Stossel, Achim||Weijer, Wilbert

publication date

  • December 2018