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Fine-scale sea-ice modelling of the Storfjorden polynya, Svalbard

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A polynya appears regularly in Storfjorden on the east side of the Svalbard archipelago. It is mainly forced by offshore winds and contributes around 10% of the brine water produced on Arctic shelves. We have applied a regional ocean model (ROMS), including a sea-ice model, on a fine grid (2 km) to simulate a full year of sea-ice growth and decay starting on 1 August 1999. This allows us to reproduce some key processes of the polynya opening and closing events during January–April 2000. The polynya remains open as long as the offshore winds exist, and reaches a width along the direction of the wind of 10–20 km. We suggest using a mean sea-ice thickness of <0.3 m as the polynya criterion, as our simulations show varying strength in the horizontal gradients in sea-ice concentration and thickness. Results show a general freeze-up during December and January, with a mean polynya area during February–April within the fjord of 33 by 50 km, being 13% of the total fjord area. Some model results including sea-ice cover and drift speed can be partially validated using satellite imagery and field data, but in general are new measurements from the polynya interior needed to further improve the modelling of solid- and grease-ice processes.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-11-01

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  • 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.

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