Sea-Ice Drift on the Northeastern Shelf of Sakhalin Island

Georgy V. Shevchenko Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia

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Alexander B. Rabinovich Institute of Ocean Sciences, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada, and P. P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

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Richard E. Thomson Institute of Ocean Sciences, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada

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Abstract

Ice-drift velocity records from coastal radar stations, combined with data from moored current meters and coastal wind stations, are used to examine sea-ice motion off the northeastern coast of Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk. Ice motion is shown to be governed primarily by diurnal tidal currents and wind-induced drift, which explain 92%–95% of the total ice-drift variance. Diurnal tidal motions predominate off the northern Sakhalin coast, accounting for 65%–80% of the variance, while low-frequency wind-induced motions prevail off the south-central coast, accounting for over 91% of the ice-drift variance. Maximum diurnal tidal ice-drift velocities range from 90–110 cm s−1 on the north coast to 10–15 cm s−1 on the south coast, in good agreement with the barotropic model of Kowalik and Polyakov. The presence of diurnal shelf waves accounts for the strong diurnal currents on the steeply sloping northern Sakhalin shelf, while the absence of such waves explains the weak diurnal currents on the more gently sloping south-central shelf. Using a vector regression model, the authors show that wind-induced ice-drift “response ellipses” (the current velocity response to a unity wind-velocity forcing) are consistent with a predominantly alongshore response to the wind, with wind-induced currents most pronounced off the south-central coast where water depths are relatively shallow. Time–frequency analysis of wind and ice-drift series reveals that, in winter, when sea ice is most extensive and internally cohesive, the ice response is almost entirely aligned with the alongshore component of the wind; in spring, when sea ice is broken and patchy, the ice responds to both the cross- and alongshore components of the wind.

Corresponding author address: Richard E. Thomson, Institute of Ocean Sciences, 9860 West Saanich Road, Sidney, BC V8L 4B2, Canada. Email: thomsonr@pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Abstract

Ice-drift velocity records from coastal radar stations, combined with data from moored current meters and coastal wind stations, are used to examine sea-ice motion off the northeastern coast of Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk. Ice motion is shown to be governed primarily by diurnal tidal currents and wind-induced drift, which explain 92%–95% of the total ice-drift variance. Diurnal tidal motions predominate off the northern Sakhalin coast, accounting for 65%–80% of the variance, while low-frequency wind-induced motions prevail off the south-central coast, accounting for over 91% of the ice-drift variance. Maximum diurnal tidal ice-drift velocities range from 90–110 cm s−1 on the north coast to 10–15 cm s−1 on the south coast, in good agreement with the barotropic model of Kowalik and Polyakov. The presence of diurnal shelf waves accounts for the strong diurnal currents on the steeply sloping northern Sakhalin shelf, while the absence of such waves explains the weak diurnal currents on the more gently sloping south-central shelf. Using a vector regression model, the authors show that wind-induced ice-drift “response ellipses” (the current velocity response to a unity wind-velocity forcing) are consistent with a predominantly alongshore response to the wind, with wind-induced currents most pronounced off the south-central coast where water depths are relatively shallow. Time–frequency analysis of wind and ice-drift series reveals that, in winter, when sea ice is most extensive and internally cohesive, the ice response is almost entirely aligned with the alongshore component of the wind; in spring, when sea ice is broken and patchy, the ice responds to both the cross- and alongshore components of the wind.

Corresponding author address: Richard E. Thomson, Institute of Ocean Sciences, 9860 West Saanich Road, Sidney, BC V8L 4B2, Canada. Email: thomsonr@pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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