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Impedance measurements of the complex dielectric permittivity of sea ice at 50 MHz: pore microstructure and potential for salinity monitoring

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We report impedance measurements of the complex dielectric permittivity = ′ – j″ of sea ice and laboratory-grown NaCl single crystals using 50 MHz Stevens Water Monitoring Systems Hydra Probes. Temperature cycling of the single-crystal samples shows hydrohalite precipitation, and hysteresis in ′ and ″ qualitatively consistent with the expected evolution of brine-inclusion microstructure. Measurements parallel and perpendicular to intra-crystalline brine layers show weak (<10%) anisotropy in ′ and a 20–40% difference in ″ due to enhanced d.c. conductivity along the layers. Measurements in landfast, first-year ice near Barrow, Alaska, USA, indicate brine motion in warming ice as the brine volume fraction vb increases above 5%. Plots of vb derived from salinity profiles against ′ and ″ for these and previous measurements display too much variability between datasets for unguided inversion of vb. Contributing to this variability are intrinsic microstructural dependence, uncertainties in vb, and sub-representative sample volumes. A standard model of sea-ice permittivity is inverted to derive the apparent brine-inclusion aspect ratio and bulk d.c. conductivity at a spatial scale complementary to previous measurements. We assess Hydra Probe performance in high-salinity environments and conclude that they are not generally suited for autonomous sea-ice salinity measurements, partly due to the range of relevant brine pocket inclusion length scales.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-02-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.

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