08 Mar 2024
 | 08 Mar 2024

How Many Parameters are Needed to Represent Polar Sea Ice Surface Patterns and Heterogeneity?

Joseph Fogarty, Elie Bou-Zeid, Mitchell Bushuk, and Linette Boisvert

Abstract. Sea ice surface patterns encode more information than can be represented solely by the ice fraction. The aim of this paper is thus to establish the importance of using a broader set of surface characterization metrics, and to identify a minimal set of such metrics that may be useful for representing sea-ice in Earth System Models. Large-eddy simulations of the atmospheric boundary layer over various idealized sea ice surface patterns, with equivalent ice fraction and average floe area, demonstrate that the spatial organization of ice and water can play a crucial role in determining boundary-layer structure. Thus, different methods to quantify heterogeneity in categorical lattice spatial data, such as those done in landscape ecology and Geographic Information System (GIS) studies, are used here on a set of high-resolution, recently-declassified sea ice surface images. It is found that, in conjunction with ice fraction, the patch density (representing the fragmentation of the surface), the splitting index (representing the variability in patch size), and perimeter-area fractal dimension (representing the tortuosity of the interface) are all required to describe the two-dimensional pattern exhibited by a sea ice surface. Furthermore, for surfaces with anisotropic patterns, the orientation of the surface relative to the mean wind is needed. Furthermore, scaling laws are derived for these relevant landscape metrics to estimate them from aggregated spatial sea ice surface data at any resolution. The methods used and results gained from this study are a first step towards further development of methods to quantify the variability of non-binary surfaces, and for parameterizing mixed ice-water surfaces in coarse geophysical models.

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Joseph Fogarty, Elie Bou-Zeid, Mitchell Bushuk, and Linette Boisvert

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-532', Ian Brooks, 21 Mar 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Joseph Fogarty, 21 Jun 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-532', Christof Lüpkes, 26 Mar 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Joseph Fogarty, 21 Jun 2024
Joseph Fogarty, Elie Bou-Zeid, Mitchell Bushuk, and Linette Boisvert

Data sets

Large-Eddy Simulation and Statistical Metric Results for Patterned Sea Ice Surfaces Joseph Fogarty and Elie Bou-Zeid

Joseph Fogarty, Elie Bou-Zeid, Mitchell Bushuk, and Linette Boisvert


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Short summary
We hypothesize that using a broad set of surface characterization metrics for polar sea ice surfaces will lead to more accurate representations in general circulation models – but the first step is to identify that minimum set of metrics. We show via numerical simulations that sea ice surface patterns can play a crucial role in determining boundary-layer structure, then statistically analyze a set of high-resolution sea ice surface images to obtain said minimal set of parameters.