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Grease-ice thickness parameterization

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Grease ice is a mixture of sea water and frazil ice crystals forming in Arctic and Antarctic waters. The initial grease-ice cover, or the grease ice forming during winter in leads and polynyas, may therefore have mixed properties of water and ice. Most sea-ice models use a lower thickness limit on the solid sea ice, representing a transition from grease ice to solid ice. Before grease ice solidifies it is often packed into a layer by the local wind. Existing field measurements of grease ice are compared and used to evaluate a new thickness parameterization including the drag from the wind as well as the ocean current. The measurements support a scaling of the wind drag and the back pressure from the grease-ice layer using a nonlinear relation. The relation is consistent with an increasing grease-ice thickness towards a solid boundary. Grease-ice data from Storfjorden, Svalbard, confirm that tidal currents are strong enough to add significant drag force on the grease ice. A typical wind speed of only 10 m s–1 results in a 0.3 m thick layer of grease ice. Tidal currents of 0.5 m s–1 will pack the grease ice further towards a stagnant boundary to a mean thickness of 0.8 m.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2011

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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.

    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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