Multi-scale satellite observations of Arctic sea ice: new insight into the life cycle of the floe size distribution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study provides a new conceptional framework to understand the life cycle of the floe size distribution of Arctic sea ice and the associated processes. We derived the floe size distribution from selected multi-scale satellite imagery data acquired from different locations and times in the Arctic. Our study identifies three stages of the floe size evolution during summer-'fracturing', 'transition' and 'melt/wave fragmentation'. Fracturing defines the initial floe size distribution (N ∼ d -α, where d is floe size) formed from the spring breakup, characterized by the single power-law regime over d = 30-3000 m with α ≈ 2. The initial floe size distribution is then modified by various floe fragmentation processes during the transition period, which is characterized by 'selective' fragmentation of large floes (d > 200-300 m) with variable α = 2.5-3.5 depending on the degree of fragmentation. As ice melt intensifies, the melt fragmentation expands the single power-law regime into smaller floes (d = 70 m) with α = 2.4-3.8, while a significant reduction of small floes (d < 30-40 m) occurs due to lateral melt. The shape factor shows an overall progression from elongated floes into rounded floes. The effects of scaling and wave-fracture are also discussed. This article is part of the theme issue 'Theory, modelling and observations of marginal ice zone dynamics: multidisciplinary perspectives and outlooks'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20210259
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences
Volume380
Issue number2235
Early online date12 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Multi-scale satellite observations of Arctic sea ice: new insight into the life cycle of the floe size distribution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this