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Jake Aylmer
,
David Ferreira
, and
Daniel Feltham
Open access

Impacts of Oceanic and Atmospheric Heat Transports on Sea Ice Extent

Jake Aylmer
,
David Ferreira
, and
Daniel Feltham

Abstract

Climate-model biases in ocean heat transport (OHT) have been proposed as a major contributor to uncertainties in projections of sea ice extent. To better understand the impact of OHT on sea ice extent and compare it to that of atmospheric heat transport (AHT), an idealized, zonally averaged energy balance model (EBM) is developed. This is distinguished from previous EBM work by coupling a diffusive mixed layer OHT and a prescribed OHT contribution, with an atmospheric EBM and a reduced-complexity sea ice model. The ice-edge latitude is roughly linearly related to the convergence of each heat transport component, with different sensitivities depending on whether the ice cover is perennial or seasonal. In both regimes, Bjerknes compensation (BC) occurs such that the response of AHT partially offsets the impact of changing OHT. As a result, the effective sensitivity of ice-edge retreat to increasing OHT is only ~2/3 of the actual sensitivity (i.e., eliminating the BC effect). In the perennial regime, the sensitivity of the ice edge to OHT is about twice that to AHT, while in the seasonal regime they are similar. The ratio of sensitivities is, to leading order, determined by atmospheric longwave feedback parameters in the perennial regime. Here, there is no parameter range in which the ice edge is more sensitive to AHT than OHT.

Open access
Paul R. Holland
and
Daniel L. Feltham

Abstract

A model of the dynamics and thermodynamics of a plume of meltwater at the base of an ice shelf is presented. Such ice shelf water plumes may become supercooled and deposit marine ice if they rise (because of the pressure decrease in the in situ freezing temperature), so the model incorporates both melting and freezing at the ice shelf base and a multiple-size-class model of frazil ice dynamics and deposition. The plume is considered in two horizontal dimensions, so the influence of Coriolis forces is incorporated for the first time. It is found that rotation is extremely influential, with simulated plumes flowing in near-geostrophy because of the low friction at a smooth ice shelf base. As a result, an ice shelf water plume will only rise and become supercooled (and thus deposit marine ice) if it is constrained to flow upslope by topography. This result agrees with the observed distribution of marine ice under Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica. In addition, it is found that the model only produces reasonable marine ice formation rates when an accurate ice shelf draft is used, implying that the characteristics of real ice shelf water plumes can only be captured using models with both rotation and a realistic topography.

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Alexander V. Wilchinsky
and
Daniel L. Feltham

Abstract

In this note, the authors discuss the contribution that frictional sliding of ice floes (or floe aggregates) past each other and pressure ridging make to the plastic yield curve of sea ice. Using results from a previous study that explicitly modeled the amount of sliding and ridging that occurs for a given global strain rate, it is noted that the relative contribution of sliding and ridging to ice stress depends upon ice thickness. The implication is that the shape and size of the plastic yield curve is dependent upon ice thickness. The yield-curve shape dependence is in addition to plastic hardening/weakening that relates the size of the yield curve to ice thickness. In most sea ice dynamics models the yield-curve shape is taken to be independent of ice thickness. The authors show that the change of the yield curve due to a change in the ice thickness can be taken into account by a weighted sum of two thickness-independent rheologies describing ridging and sliding effects separately. It would be straightforward to implement the thickness-dependent yield-curve shape described here into sea ice models used for global or regional ice prediction.

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Alexander V. Wilchinsky
and
Daniel L. Feltham

Abstract

The mixing of floes of different thickness caused by repeated deformation of the ice cover is modeled as diffusion, and the mass balance equation for sea ice accounting for mass diffusion is developed. The effect of deformational diffusion on the ice thickness balance is shown to reach 1% of the divergence effect, which describes ridging and lead formation. This means that with the same accuracy the mass balance equation can be written in terms of mean velocity rather than mean mass-weighted velocity, which one should correctly use for a multicomponent fluid such as sea ice with components identified by floe thickness. Mixing (diffusion) of sea ice also occurs because of turbulent variations in wind and ocean drags that are unresolved in models. Estimates of the importance of turbulent mass diffusion on the dynamic redistribution of ice thickness are determined using empirical data for the turbulent diffusivity. For long-time-scale prediction (≫5 days), where unresolved atmospheric motion may have a length scale on the order of the Arctic basin and the time scale is larger than the synoptic time scale of atmospheric events, turbulent mass diffusion can exceed 10% of the divergence effect. However, for short-time-scale prediction, for example, 5 days, the unresolved scales are on the order of 100 km, and turbulent diffusion is about 0.1% of the divergence effect. Because inertial effects are small in the dynamics of the sea ice pack, diffusive momentum transfer can be disregarded.

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Alexander V. Wilchinsky
and
Daniel L. Feltham

Abstract

Descent and spreading of high salinity water generated by salt rejection during sea ice formation in an Antarctic coastal polynya is studied using a hydrostatic, primitive equation three-dimensional ocean model called the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory Coastal Ocean Modeling System (POLCOMS). The shape of the polynya is assumed to be a rectangle 100 km long and 30 km wide, and the salinity flux into the polynya at its surface is constant. The model has been run at high horizontal spatial resolution (500 m), and numerical simulations reveal a buoyancy-driven coastal current. The coastal current is a robust feature and appears in a range of simulations designed to investigate the influence of a sloping bottom, variable bottom drag, variable vertical turbulent diffusivities, higher salinity flux, and an offshore position of the polynya. It is shown that bottom drag is the main factor determining the current width. This coastal current has not been produced with other numerical models of polynyas, which may be because these models were run at coarser resolutions. The coastal current becomes unstable upstream of its front when the polynya is adjacent to the coast. When the polynya is situated offshore, an unstable current is produced from its outset owing to the capture of cyclonic eddies. The effect of a coastal protrusion and a canyon on the current motion is investigated. In particular, due to the convex shape of the coastal protrusion, the current sheds a dipolar eddy.

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Alexander V. Wilchinsky
and
Daniel L. Feltham

ABSTRACT

A rheological model of sea ice is presented that incorporates the orientational distribution of ice thickness in leads embedded in isotropic floe ice. Sea ice internal stress is determined by coulombic, ridging and tensile failure at orientations where corresponding failure criteria are satisfied at minimum stresses. Because sea ice traction increases in thinner leads and cohesion is finite, such failure line angles are determined by the orientational distribution of sea ice thickness relative to the imposed stresses. In contrast to the isotropic case, sea ice thickness anisotropy results in these failure lines becoming dependent on the stress magnitude. Although generally a given failure criteria type can be satisfied at many directions, only two at most are considered. The strain rate is determined by shearing along slip lines accompanied by dilatancy and closing or opening across orientations affected by ridging or tensile failure. The rheology is illustrated by a yield curve determined by combining coulombic and ridging failure for the case of two pairs of isotropically formed leads of different thicknesses rotated with regard to each other, which models two events of coulombic failure followed by dilatancy and refreezing. The yield curve consists of linear segments describing coulombic and ridging yield as failure switches from one lead to another as the stress grows. Because sliding along slip lines is accompanied by dilatancy, at typical Arctic sea ice deformation rates a one-day-long deformation event produces enough open water that these freshly formed slip lines are preferential places of ridging failure.

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Alexander V. Wilchinsky
,
Daniel L. Feltham
, and
Paul R. Holland

Abstract

A drag law accounting for Ekman rotation adjacent to a flat, horizontal boundary is proposed for use in a plume model that is written in terms of the depth-mean velocity. The drag law contains a variable turning angle between the mean velocity and the drag imposed by the turbulent boundary layer. The effect of the variable turning angle in the drag law is studied for a plume of ice shelf water (ISW) ascending and turning beneath an Antarctic ice shelf with draft decreasing away from the grounding line. As the ISW plume ascends the sloping ice shelf–ocean boundary, it can melt the ice shelf, which alters the buoyancy forcing driving the plume motion. Under these conditions, the typical turning angle is of order −10° over most of the plume area for a range of drag coefficients (the minus sign arises for the Southern Hemisphere). The rotation of the drag with respect to the mean velocity is found to be significant if the drag coefficient exceeds 0.003; in this case the plume body propagates farther along and across the base of the ice shelf than a plume with the standard quadratic drag law with no turning angle.

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Alexander V. Wilchinsky
,
Daniel L. Feltham
, and
Paul A. Miller

Abstract

A multithickness sea ice model explicitly accounting for the ridging and sliding friction contributions to sea ice stress is developed. Both ridging and sliding contributions depend on the deformation type through functions adopted from the Ukita and Moritz kinematic model of floe interaction. In contrast to most previous work, the ice strength of a uniform ice sheet of constant ice thickness is taken to be proportional to the ice thickness raised to the 3/2 power, as is revealed in discrete element simulations by Hopkins. The new multithickness sea ice model for sea ice stress has been implemented into the Los Alamos “CICE” sea ice model code and is shown to improve agreement between model predictions and observed spatial distribution of sea ice thickness in the Arctic.

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Alek A. Petty
,
Daniel L. Feltham
, and
Paul R. Holland

Abstract

The Antarctic continental shelf seas feature a bimodal distribution of water mass temperature, with the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas flooded by Circumpolar Deep Water that is several degrees Celsius warmer than the cold shelf waters prevalent in the Weddell and Ross Seas. This bimodal distribution could be caused by differences in atmospheric forcing, ocean dynamics, ocean and ice feedbacks, or some combination of these factors. In this study, a highly simplified coupled sea ice–mixed layer model is developed to investigate the physical processes controlling this situation. Under regional atmospheric forcings and parameter choices the 10-yr simulations demonstrate a complete destratification of the Weddell Sea water column in winter, forming cold, relatively saline shelf waters, while the Amundsen Sea winter mixed layer remains shallower, allowing a layer of deep warm water to persist. Applying the Weddell atmospheric forcing to the Amundsen Sea model destratifies the water column after two years, and applying the Amundsen forcing to the Weddell Sea model results in a shallower steady-state winter mixed layer that no longer destratifies the water column. This suggests that the regional difference in atmospheric forcings alone is sufficient to account for the bimodal distribution in Antarctic shelf-sea temperatures. The model prediction of mixed layer depth is most sensitive to the air temperature forcing, but a switch in all forcings is required to prevent destratification of the Weddell Sea water column.

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