Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-1435
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-1435
 
22 Dec 2022
22 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Spatial characteristics of frazil streaks in the Terra Nova Bay Polynya from high-resolution visible satellite imagery

Katarzyna Bradtke1 and Agnieszka Herman2 Katarzyna Bradtke and Agnieszka Herman
  • 1Faculty of Oceanography and Geography, University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland
  • 2Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Sopot, Poland

Abstract. Coastal polynyas around the Antarctic continent are regions of very strong ocean–atmosphere heat and moisture exchange, important for local and regional weather, sea ice production and water mass formation. Due to extreme atmospheric conditions (very strong offshore winds, low air temperature and humidity) the surface ocean layer in polynyas is highly turbulent, with mixing due to combined Langmuir, wind-induced and buoyancy-driven turbulence. One of the visible signs of complex interactions between the mixed layer dynamics and the forming sea ice are frazil streaks, elongated patches of high ice concentration separated by areas of open water. In spite of their ubiquity, observational and modelling analyses of frazil streaks have been very limited, largely due to the fact that their significance for heat flux and ice production is only just becoming apparent. In this study, the first comprehensive analysis of the spatial variability of surface frazil concentration is performed for the Terra Nova Bay Polynya (TNBP). Frazil streaks are identified in high-resolution (pixel size 10–15 m) visible satellite imagery, and their properties (surface area, width, spacing and orientation) are linked to the meteorological forcing (wind speed and air temperature). This provides a simple statistical tool for estimating the extent and ice coverage of the region of high ice production under given meteorological conditions. It is also shown that the orientation of narrow streaks tends to agree with the wind direction, suggesting the dominating role of the local wind forcing in their formation. Very wide streaks, in turn, deviate from that pattern, as they are presumably influenced by several additional factors, including local water circulation and the associated convergence zones. An analysis of peak wave lengths and directions determined from the images, compared to analogous open-water wave lengths computed with a spectral wave model, demonstrates a significant slow-down in the observed wave growth in TNBP. This suggests an important role of frazil streaks in modifying wind-wave growth and/or dissipation in polynyas.

Katarzyna Bradtke and Agnieszka Herman

Status: open (until 16 Feb 2023)

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Katarzyna Bradtke and Agnieszka Herman

Katarzyna Bradtke and Agnieszka Herman

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Short summary
The frazil streaks are one of the visible signs of complex interactions between the mixed layer dynamics and the forming sea ice. Using high-resolution visible satellite imagery we characterize their spatial properties, relationship with the meteorological forcing and role in modifying wind-wave growth in the Terra Nova Bay Polynya. We provide a simple statistical tool for estimating the extent and ice coverage of the region of high ice production under given wind speed and air temperature.