Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1329
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1329
11 Jun 2024
 | 11 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Inferring the seasonality of sea ice floes in the Weddell Sea using ICESat-2

Mukund Gupta, Heather Regan, Young Hyun Koo, Sean Minhui Tashi Chua, Xueke Li, and Petra Heil

Abstract. Over the last decade, the Southern Ocean has experienced episodes of severe sea ice area decline. Abrupt events of sea ice loss are challenging to predict, in part due to incomplete understanding of processes occurring at the scale of individual ice floes. Here, we use high-resolution altimetry (ICESat-2) to quantify the seasonal life cycle of floes in the perennial sea ice pack of the Weddell Sea. The evolution of the floe chord distribution (FCD) shows an increase in the proportion of smaller floes between November and February, which coincides with the asymmetric melt/freeze cycle of the pack. The freeboard ice thickness distribution (fITD) suggests mirrored seasonality between the western and southern sections of the Weddell Sea ice cover, with an increasing proportion of thicker floes between October and March in the south and the opposite in the west. There is a positive correlation between the mean chord length of floes and their average thickness, which persists throughout the year. Composited floe profiles reveal that smaller floes are more vertically round than larger floes, and that the mean roundness of floes increases during the melt season. These results show that regional differences in ice concentration and type at larger scales occur in conjunction with different behaviors at the small scale. We therefore suggest that a comparison of floe-derived metrics obtained from altimetry could provide useful diagnostics for floe-resolving models and improve our understanding of sea ice processes across scales.

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Mukund Gupta, Heather Regan, Young Hyun Koo, Sean Minhui Tashi Chua, Xueke Li, and Petra Heil

Status: open (until 23 Jul 2024)

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Mukund Gupta, Heather Regan, Young Hyun Koo, Sean Minhui Tashi Chua, Xueke Li, and Petra Heil
Mukund Gupta, Heather Regan, Young Hyun Koo, Sean Minhui Tashi Chua, Xueke Li, and Petra Heil

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Short summary
The sea ice cover is composed of floes, whose shapes set the material properties of the pack. Here, we use a satellite product (ICESat-2) to investigate these floe shapes within the Weddell Sea. We find that floes tend to become smaller during the melt season, while their thickness distribution exhibits different behavior between the western and southern regions of the pack. These metrics will help calibrate models, and improve our understanding of sea ice physics across scales.