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Wind and Wave Influences on Sea Ice Floe Size and Leads in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas During the Summer-Fall Transition 2014

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Journal Article - Open Access

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Naval Research Laboratory Stennis Space Center United States

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Sea ice floe size distribution and lead properties in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas are studied in the summer-fall transition 2014 to examine the impact on the sea ice cover from storms and surface waves. Floe size distributions are analyzed from MEDEA, Landsat8, and RADARSAT-2 imagery, with a resolution span of 1100 m. Landsat8 imagery is also used to identify the orientation and spacing of leads. The study period centers around three large wave events during AugustSeptember 2014 identified by SWIFT buoys and WAVEWATCH IIIVR model data. The range of floe sizes from different resolutions provides the overall distribution across a wide range of ice properties and estimated thickness. All cumulative floe size distribution curves show a gradual bending toward shallower slopes for smaller floe sizes. The overall slopes in the cumulative floe size distribution curves from Landsat8 images are lower than, while those from RADARSAT-2 are similar to, previously reported results in the same region and seasonal period. The MEDEA floe size distributions appeared to be sensitive to the passage of storms. Lead orientations, regardless of length, correlate slightly better with the peak wave direction than with the mean wave direction. Their correlation with the geostrophic wind is stronger than with the surface wind. The spacing between shorter leads correlates well with the local incoming surface wavelengths, obtained from the model peak wave frequency. The information derived shows promise for a coordinated multisensor study of storm effects in the Arctic marginal ice zone.

Subject Categories:

  • Snow, Ice and Permafrost

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