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Simulating the Mechanics of Sea Ice Using the Discrete Element Method

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Journal Article - Embargoed Full-Text

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Naval Research Laboratory Stennis Space Center United States

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We developed a technique using the discrete element method DEM to simulate the fracture mechanics of ice under flexural, compressive, and tensile loading. In the simulations, virtual blocks of ice are created through a multistep process. First, identical spheres are settled into a random packing. Then, a force network is established at the contact points between spherical elements, which are subsequently replaced by their representative Voronoi volumes. The results of three different sets of tests suggest that the strength of the simulated ice was well characterized using a linear function of the free parameters for the critical bond normal and shear stresses. Additionally, in the flexural strength tests the ratio of the ice thickness to the diameter of the spheres was shown to be sensitive for values less than 4.5, suggesting that a minimum number of bonds was necessary to produce robust estimates for the flexural strength. Overall, the results indicate that the simulations may be calibrated to match the strength properties of various types of ice found in the marginal ice zone MIZ. The DEM simulations developed here may be used in larger scale models to directly incorporate the effects of ice break up on water waves in the MIZ

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  • Snow, Ice and Permafrost

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