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A conceptual model for pancake-ice formation in a wave field

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It is well known that waves jostle frazil-ice crystals together, providing opportunities for them to compact into floes. The shape of these consolidated floes is nearly circular, hence the name: pancakes. From field and laboratory observations, the size of these pancakes seems to depend on the wavelength. Further aggregation of these individual pancakes produces the seasonal ice cover. Pancake-ice covers prevail in the marginal ice zone of the Southern Ocean and along the edges of many polar and subpolar seas. This theoretical paper describes conceptually the formation process of a pancake-ice cover in a wave field. The mechanisms that affect the evolution of the entire ice cover are discussed. Governing equations for the time-rate change of the floe diameter, its thickness and the thickness of the ice-cover are derived based on these mechanisms. Two criteria are proposed to determine the maximum floe size under a given wave condition, one based on bending and the other on stretching. Field and laboratory observations to date are discussed in view of this theory.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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