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Regimes of sea‐ice floe melt: Ice‐ocean coupling at the submesoscales

Gupta, Mukund and Thompson, Andrew F. (2022) Regimes of sea‐ice floe melt: Ice‐ocean coupling at the submesoscales. Journal of Geophysical Research. Oceans . ISSN 2169-9275. doi:10.1029/2022jc018894. (In Press)

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Marginal ice zones are composed of discrete sea-ice floes, whose dynamics are not well captured by the continuum representation of sea ice in most climate models. This study makes use of an ocean Large Eddy Simulation (LES) model, coupled to cylindrical sea-ice floes, to investigate thermal and mechanical interactions between melt-induced submesoscale features and sea-ice floes, during summer conditions. We explore the sensitivity of sea-ice melt rates and upper-ocean turbulence properties to floe size, ice-ocean drag and surface winds. Under low wind conditions, upper ocean turbulence transports warm cyclonic filaments from the open ocean toward the center of the floes and enhance their basal melt. This heat transport is partially suppressed by trapping of ice within cold anticyclonic features. When winds are stronger, melt rates are enhanced by the decoupling of floes from the cold, melt-induced lens underneath sea ice. Distinct dynamical regimes emerge in which the influence of warm filaments on sea-ice melt is mitigated by the strength of ice-ocean coupling and eddy size relative to floe size. Simple scaling laws, which may help parameterize these processes in coarse continuum-based sea-ice models, successfully capture floe melt rates under these limiting regimes.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription floe code
Gupta, Mukund0000-0003-0181-9504
Thompson, Andrew F.0000-0003-0322-4811
Additional Information:© 2022 American Geophysical Union. Accepted manuscript online: 17 August 2022. Manuscript accepted: 12 August 2022. Manuscript revised: 07 August 2022. Manuscript received: 25 May 2022. M.G. and A.F.T. were supported by the Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) on Mathematics and Data Science for Physical Modeling and Prediction of Sea Ice. A.F.T. also acknowledges support from the NSF OCE-1829969 grant. The authors are grateful to Ali Ramadhan and Gregory L. Wagner for their help with the ocean model setup, and acknowledge fruitful discussions with the MURI team. M.G. and A.F.T. also appreciate the comments from two anonymous reviewers, which helped improve the manuscript. The sea-ice floe code is provided at and ‘Oceananigans.jl’ is available at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Office of Naval Research (ONR)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:sea ice; submesoscale; melt; arctic; floe
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220817-897491000
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Official Citation:Gupta, M., & Thompson, A. F. (2022). Regimes of sea-ice floe melt: Ice-ocean coupling at the submesoscales. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 127, e2022JC018894.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:116353
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:17 Aug 2022 20:31
Last Modified:17 Aug 2022 20:31

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