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Modeling the Dynamics of the North Water Polynya Ice Bridge

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  • 1 Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre Eau, Terre et Environnement, Québec, Québec, Canada
  • | 2 National Ice Center, Suitland, Maryland
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Abstract

The North Water polynya, the largest polynya in the world, forms annually and recurrently in Smith Sound in northern Baffin Bay. Its formation is governed in part by the formation of an ice bridge in the narrow channel of Nares Strait below Kane Basin. Here, the widely used elastic–viscous–plastic elliptical rheology dynamic sea ice model is applied to the region. The idealized case is tested over a range of values for e = [1.2, 2.0] and initial ice thicknesses from 0.75 to 3.5 m, using constant northerly winds over a period of 30 days, to evaluate long-term stability of different rheological parameterizations. Idealized high-resolution simulations show that the formation of a stable ice bridge is possible for e ≤ 1.8. The dependence of the solution in terms of grid discretization is studied with a domain rotated 45°. A realistic domain with realistic forcing is also tested to compare time-variant solutions to actual observations. Cohesion has a remarkable impact on if and when the ice bridge will form and fail, assessing its importance for regional and global climate modeling, but the lack of observational thickness data during polynya events prevents the authors from identifying an optimal value for e.

Corresponding author address: Dany Dumont, Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre Eau, Terre et Environnement, 490 rue de la Couronne, Québec QC G1K 9A9, Canada. Email: dany_dumont@ete.inrs.ca

Abstract

The North Water polynya, the largest polynya in the world, forms annually and recurrently in Smith Sound in northern Baffin Bay. Its formation is governed in part by the formation of an ice bridge in the narrow channel of Nares Strait below Kane Basin. Here, the widely used elastic–viscous–plastic elliptical rheology dynamic sea ice model is applied to the region. The idealized case is tested over a range of values for e = [1.2, 2.0] and initial ice thicknesses from 0.75 to 3.5 m, using constant northerly winds over a period of 30 days, to evaluate long-term stability of different rheological parameterizations. Idealized high-resolution simulations show that the formation of a stable ice bridge is possible for e ≤ 1.8. The dependence of the solution in terms of grid discretization is studied with a domain rotated 45°. A realistic domain with realistic forcing is also tested to compare time-variant solutions to actual observations. Cohesion has a remarkable impact on if and when the ice bridge will form and fail, assessing its importance for regional and global climate modeling, but the lack of observational thickness data during polynya events prevents the authors from identifying an optimal value for e.

Corresponding author address: Dany Dumont, Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre Eau, Terre et Environnement, 490 rue de la Couronne, Québec QC G1K 9A9, Canada. Email: dany_dumont@ete.inrs.ca

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