Project Details

Collaborative Research: Contribution of Prydz Bay Shelf Water To Antarctic Bottom Water Formation

Sponsor:  National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation


Columbia University: Xiaojun Yuan
First Institute of Oceanography, China
University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Funding Period

May 2015 – April 2021


The overarching goal of our research is to understand the significance of the polar ocean in the Prydz Bay region of Antarctica to the global climate system through estimating the formation and export of dense shelf water in the region and illustrating the dynamic processes involved. Specific scientific questions that we are addressing include:

  1. What are mechanisms that control circumpolar deep water (CDW) intrusions and its synoptic, seasonal and interannual variations?
  2. What are the spatial/temporal variations in distributions of dense shelf water formed in the Prydz Bay shelf region?
  3. What are the dynamic processes controlling the export and fate of the dense shelf water formed in the Prydz Bay shelf region?

We are conducting three years of fieldwork with CTD/LADCP surveys including 2 yearly repeat sections and mooring deployments at critical sites to monitor seasonal-interannual variability of CDW intrusion, dense shelf water accumulation and export as well as overflow from the Prydz Bay shelf on the slope. A high-resolution regional ocean-sea ice coupled model will be developed to provide time and space continuous three-dimensional ocean state estimation. Both in-situ and remote sensing observations and modeling simulation results will be used to investigate (i) the local atmosphere-ocean-sea ice interaction and shelf processes that produce dense shelf water and (ii) the dynamic processes that control the shelf water export.


Poster: “Subantarctic Mode Water and Pycnocline Ventilation,” by B. Johnson at the 2018 Ocean Sciences meeting.


Willison, J.,  B.K. Johnson, and R. He, Diapycnal mixing modulates dense shelf water formation in Prydz Bay, Journal of Physical Oceanography, in review.

Johnson, B.K., J. Willison, and R. He, Water Mass Transformation in θ-S Coordinates: an Illustration in the Southern Ocean, Progress in Oceanography, in review.