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A new modeling framework for sea-ice mechanics based on elasto-brittle rheology

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We present a new modeling framework for sea-ice mechanics based on elasto-brittle (EB) behavior. The EB framework considers sea ice as a continuous elastic plate encountering progressive damage, simulating the opening of cracks and leads. As a result of long-range elastic interactions, the stress relaxation following a damage event can induce an avalanche of damage. Damage propagates in narrow linear features, resulting in a very heterogeneous strain field. Idealized simulations of the Arctic sea-ice cover are analyzed in terms of ice strain rates and contrasted to observations and simulations performed with the classical viscous–plastic (VP) rheology. The statistical and scaling properties of ice strain rates are used as the evaluation metric. We show that EB simulations give a good representation of the shear faulting mechanism that accommodates most sea-ice deformation. The distributions of strain rates and the scaling laws of ice deformation are well captured by the EB framework, which is not the case for VP simulations. These results suggest that the properties of ice deformation emerge from elasto-brittle ice-mechanical behavior and motivate the implementation of the EB framework in a global sea-ice model.

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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