Journal of Oceanography, 57, 451-460., 2001

Winter Oceanographic Conditions in the Southwestern Part of the Okhotsk Sea and Their Relation to Sea Ice

K. I. Ohshima, G. Mizuta, M. Itoh, Y. Fukamachi, T. Watanabe, Y. Nabae, K. Suehiro, and M. Wakatsuchi
In the southwestern part of the Okhotsk Sea, oceanographic and sea-ice observations on board the icebreaker Soya were carried out in February 1997. A mixed layer of uniform temperature nearly at the freezing point extending down to a depth of about 300 m was observed. This is much deeper than has previously been reported. It is suggested that this deep mixed layer originated from the north (off East Sakhalin), being advected along the shelf slope via the East Sakhalin Current, accompanied with the thick first-year ice (average thickness 0.6 m). This vertically uniform winter water, through mixing with the surrounding water, makes the surface water more saline (losing a characteristic of East Sakhalin Current Water) and the water in the 100-300 m depth zone less saline, colder, and richer in oxygen (a characteristic of the intermediate Okhotsk Sea water). The oceanographic structure and a heat budget analysis suggest that new ice zone, which often appears at ice edges, can be formed through preconditioning of thick ice advection and subsequent cooling by the latent heat release due to its melting.