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Spatial and temporal characterization of sea-ice deformation

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In late March 2007 an array of GPS ice drifters was deployed in the Beaufort Sea as part of the Sea Ice Experiment: Dynamic Nature of the Arctic (SEDNA). The drifters were deployed in an array designed to resolve four, nested spatial scales of sea-ice deformation, from 10 to 140 km, with the arrays maintaining appropriate shape for strain-rate calculation until mid-June. In this paper, we test whether sea-ice deformation displays fractal properties in the vicinity of SEDNA. We identify that deformation time series have different spectral properties depending on the spatial scale. At the scales around 100 km, deformation is a red-noise process, indicating the importance of the ice-pack surface forcing in determining the deformation rate of sea ice at this scale. At smaller scales, the deformation becomes an increasingly whiter process (it has pink noise properties), which suggests an increasing role of dissipative processes at smaller scales. At spatial scales of 10–100 km, and sub-daily scales, there is no deformation coherence across scales; coherence only becomes apparent at longer scales greater than 100 km. The lack of coherence at small scales aids in understanding previous observations where correlation between 10 km regions adjacent to each other varied widely, with correlation coefficients between –0.3 and 1. This suggests it is not appropriate to think of sea ice as having a decorrelation length scale for deformation. We find that lead scale observations of deformation are required when estimating ice growth in leads and ridging time series. For the two SEDNA arrays, we find coherence between 140 and 20 km scale deformation up to periods of 16 days. This suggests sea-ice deformation displays coherent deformation between 100 km scale and the scale of the Beaufort Sea (of order 1000 km), over synoptic time periods (daily to weekly timescales). Organization of leads at synoptic and larger scales is an emergent feature of the deformation field that is caused by the smooth variation of surface forcing (wind) on the ice pack.

Document Type: Research Article


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.

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