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Modelling the reorientation of sea-ice faults as the wind changes direction

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Abstract:

A discrete-element model of sea ice is used to study how a 90° change in wind direction alters the pattern of faults generated through mechanical failure of the ice. The sea-ice domain is 400 km in size and consists of polygonal floes obtained through a Voronoi tessellation. Initially the floes are frozen together through viscous–elastic joints that can break under sufficient compressive, tensile and shear deformation. A constant wind-stress gradient is applied until the initially frozen ice pack is broken into roughly diamond-shaped aggregates, with crack angles determined by wing-crack formation. Then partial refreezing of the cracks delineating the aggregates is modelled through reduction of their length by a particular fraction, the ice pack deformation is neglected and the wind stress is rotated by 90°. New cracks form, delineating aggregates with a different orientation. Our results show the new crack orientation depends on the refrozen fraction of the initial faults: as this fraction increases, the new cracks gradually rotate to the new wind direction, reaching 90° for fully refrozen faults. Such reorientation is determined by a competition between new cracks forming at a preferential angle determined by the wing-crack theory and at old cracks oriented at a less favourable angle but having higher stresses due to shorter contacts across the joints.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/172756411795931831

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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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.

    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.

    Beginning in 2016, content will be available at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/annals-of-glaciology.

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