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Sea Ice Meltwater in the Beaufort Gyre: A Comprehensive Analysis Using Sea Surface Salinity Data from SMOS
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  • Eva De Andrés,
  • Marta Umbert,
  • María Sánchez-Urrea,
  • Verónica González-Gambau,
  • Estrella Olmedo,
  • Carolina Gabarro,
  • Pedro Elosegui
Eva De Andrés
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Marta Umbert
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María Sánchez-Urrea
Institute of Marine Science (ICM-CSIC)
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Verónica González-Gambau
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC)
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Estrella Olmedo
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC)
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Carolina Gabarro
Institut de Ciencies del Mar
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Pedro Elosegui
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Arctic sea ice is retreating, thinning, and exhibiting increased mobility. In the Beaufort Gyre (BG), liquid freshwater content (FWC) has increased by 40\% in the last two decades, with sea ice melting being a primary contributor. This study utilizes satellite observations of sea surface salinity (SSS) and sea ice concentration, along with model-based sea ice thickness from 2011 to 2019. The aim is to investigate the sea ice-SSS relationship at different scales in the Arctic and understand the sea-ice meltwater dynamics in the BG. Our findings reveal a strong synchrony and positive correlation between sea ice area and SSS in the Arctic Ocean. In September, when the BG exhibits the largest ice-free ocean surface, a noticeable release of freshwater from sea ice melting occurs, a phenomenon not accurately reproduced by the models. The SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) mission proves valuable in detecting meltwater lenses (MWL) originating from sea ice melting. These MWLs exhibit mean SSS ranging from 19 psu at the begining of sea ice retreat to 25 psu before sea ice formation. Wind-driven anticyclonic eddies can trap MWLs, preserving the freshest SSS imprints on the sea surface for up to 10 days. Furthermore, events of sea surface salinification following sea ice formation suggest that SMOS SSS might be capturing information on brine rejection. The daily evolution of sea ice-SSS within the MWLs demonstrates a tight correlation between both variables after sea ice melting and just before sea ice formation, indicating a transient period in between.