EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Impact of wave-induced sea ice fragmentation on sea ice dynamics in the MIZ

Guillaume Boutin1, Timothy Williams1, Pierre Rampal1, Einar Olason1, and Camille Lique2
Guillaume Boutin et al.
  • 1Nansen Center, Sea ice Modelling Group, Bergen, Norway
  • 2Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), IUEM, Brest 29280, France

The decrease in Arctic sea ice extent is associated with an increase of the area where sea ice and open ocean interact, commonly referred to as the Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ). In this area, sea ice is particularly exposed to waves that can penetrate over tens to hundreds of kilometres into the ice cover. Waves are known to play a major role in the fragmentation of sea ice in the MIZ, and the interactions between wave-induced sea ice fragmentation and lateral melting have received particular attention in recent years. The impact of this fragmentation on sea ice dynamics, however, remains mostly unknown, although it is thought that fragmented sea ice experiences less resistance to deformation than pack ice. In this presentation, we will introduce a new coupled framework involving the spectral wave model WAVEWATCH III and the sea ice model neXtSIM, which includes a Maxwell-Elasto Brittle rheology. We use this coupled modelling system to investigate the potential impact of wave-induced sea ice fragmentation on sea ice dynamics. Focusing on the Barents Sea, we find that the decrease of the internal stress of sea ice resulting from its fragmentation by waves results in a more dynamical MIZ, in particular in areas where sea ice is compact. Sea ice drift is enhanced for both on-ice and off-ice wind conditions. Our results stress the importance of considering wave–sea-ice interactions for forecast applications. They also suggest that waves likely modulate the area of sea ice that is advected away from the pack by ocean (sub-)mesoscale eddies near the ice edge, potentially contributing to the observed past, current and future sea ice cover decline in the Arctic. 

How to cite: Boutin, G., Williams, T., Rampal, P., Olason, E., and Lique, C.: Impact of wave-induced sea ice fragmentation on sea ice dynamics in the MIZ, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8657,, 2020.


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