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Enhancement of Sea Ice Drift due to the Dynamical Interaction between Sea Ice and a Coastal Ocean

Yoshihiro NakayamaGraduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

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Kay I. OhshimaInstitute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

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Yasushi FukamachiInstitute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

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Abstract

Wind factor, the ratio of sea ice drift speed to surface wind speed, is a key factor for the dynamics of sea ice and is generally about 2%. In some coastal oceans, however, the wind factor tends to be larger near the coast. This study proposes the enhancement mechanism of the sea ice drift caused by the dynamical coupling between sea ice and a coastal ocean. In a coastal ocean covered with sea ice, wind-forced sea ice drift excites coastal trapped waves (shelf waves) and generates fluctuating ocean current. This ocean current can enhance sea ice drift when the current direction is the same as that of the wind-driven drift. The authors consider a simplified setting where spatially uniform oscillating wind drifts sea ice parallel to the coast. When a barotropic long shelf wave is assumed for the ocean response, sea ice drifts driven by wind and ocean are obtained analytically. The ratio of ocean-driven to wind-driven sea ice drifts is used for the evaluation of the oceanic contribution to the enhancement of sea ice drift. The enhancement is mostly determined by the characteristics of the shelf waves, and sea ice drift is significantly enhanced close to the coast with lower-frequency wind forcing. Comparison with the observation off the Sakhalin coast shows that the degree of enhancement of sea ice drift and its characteristic such that larger enhancement occurs near the coast are mostly consistent with our theoretical solution, suggesting that this mechanism is present in the real ocean.

Current affiliation: Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany.

Corresponding author address: Yoshihiro Nakayama, Alfred Wegener Institute, Bussestrasse 24 D-27570 Bremerhaven, Germany. E-mail: yoshihiro.nakayama@awi.de.

Abstract

Wind factor, the ratio of sea ice drift speed to surface wind speed, is a key factor for the dynamics of sea ice and is generally about 2%. In some coastal oceans, however, the wind factor tends to be larger near the coast. This study proposes the enhancement mechanism of the sea ice drift caused by the dynamical coupling between sea ice and a coastal ocean. In a coastal ocean covered with sea ice, wind-forced sea ice drift excites coastal trapped waves (shelf waves) and generates fluctuating ocean current. This ocean current can enhance sea ice drift when the current direction is the same as that of the wind-driven drift. The authors consider a simplified setting where spatially uniform oscillating wind drifts sea ice parallel to the coast. When a barotropic long shelf wave is assumed for the ocean response, sea ice drifts driven by wind and ocean are obtained analytically. The ratio of ocean-driven to wind-driven sea ice drifts is used for the evaluation of the oceanic contribution to the enhancement of sea ice drift. The enhancement is mostly determined by the characteristics of the shelf waves, and sea ice drift is significantly enhanced close to the coast with lower-frequency wind forcing. Comparison with the observation off the Sakhalin coast shows that the degree of enhancement of sea ice drift and its characteristic such that larger enhancement occurs near the coast are mostly consistent with our theoretical solution, suggesting that this mechanism is present in the real ocean.

Current affiliation: Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany.

Corresponding author address: Yoshihiro Nakayama, Alfred Wegener Institute, Bussestrasse 24 D-27570 Bremerhaven, Germany. E-mail: yoshihiro.nakayama@awi.de.
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