MOSAiC: Floe-scale observation and quantification of Arctic sea ice breakup and floe size during the autumn-to-summer transition (MOSAiCFSD)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Huddersfield
Department Name: Sch of Applied Sciences

Abstract

This project investigates multi-scale sea ice processes in the so-called marginal ice zone (MIZ), a region in the Arctic Ocean typically consisting of small, discrete ice floes in summer. This MIZ is very dynamic, easily affected by waves and wind, which enhances the heat and momentum exchanges between ocean and atmosphere. This dynamic MIZ has been grown during past decades, and is projected to grow to an even greater extent (almost all sea ice cover becoming the MIZ by 2080).

The very inherent process within this expanding MIZ is sea ice freeze-up, deformation, spring breakup and summer melt. In autumn, open water and ice floes survived the summer melt consolidate to form a continuous sheet of winter ice that contains a mixture of multiyear ice (from last summer), first-year (grown from autumn) and newly formed ice (grown later season). This winter ice is then deformed and fractured to form leads/cracks or ridges. In spring, this winter ice breaks apart into small discrete floes, which will be further broken apart or melt in summer. We hypothesize that this seasonal evolution of ice floes is linked and should be understood to improve sea ice-ocean/climate model prediction.

In this project, we aim to generate new observational data and understanding of this seasonal evolution of ice floes, at the year-long MOSAiC drifting station. For this, we will conduct small-scale (below 2 km) observation of sea ice freeze-up, deformation, spring breakup and summer melt using a combination of high-precisions GNSS buoys, drifters and airborne/satellite observations. This small-scale observational data will be combined with large-scale observation of deformation (above 2 km), ice types/features and floe size, forming a unique multi-scale data set, which will provide a comprehensive picture of the seasonal of ice floes. We will also explore the possibility to incorporate the generated data set into specific models to measure and demonstrate the impact of our process study.

The data set and knowledge gained from this project will enable modelling communities to develop, calibrate and validate their new/existing model parameterisations of sea ice-ocean and climate models, thus improving climate projection in the Arctic and providing improved advice to national and international governing bodies for climate change issues.

Planned Impact

This project will generate, as part of MOSAiC, new datasets and knowledge of physical processes in the marginal ice zone (MIZ) of the changing Arctic Ocean, including the impact of thinner, smaller floes in the expanding MIZ and subsequent increase in deformation and floe breakup/melting. We will quantify small-scale (below 2 km) deformations and floe breakup/melt mechanisms and evaluate their impacts to the reduced sea ice cover. This small-scale observational data will be combined with large-scale observation of deformation, ice types, fracture features and floe size, forming a unique multi-scale data set over the full annual cycle. The synthesis of the data will then be used to improve model parameterisations and address fundamental questions about the seasonal dynamics of sea ice.

The unique data/outputs generated from this project will benefit the MOSAiC team, modelling scientists as well as national and international Arctic/Antarctic research communities. We will engage with these specific users through direct collaborations such as project partnership and existing connections. For wider user communities, the improved sea ice-ocean/climate models, aided by our outputs, will benefit national and international policy makers, private sectors such as oil/gas and shipping/insurance companies, as well as local Inuit communities. We will achieve this through peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals, presenting the results at major international conferences/workshops, and arranging private meetings with stakeholders.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Collaboration with Brown University 
Organisation Brown University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team contributed Dr Horvat's research by providing observational data set to his modelling studies.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Horvat contributed to journal publication. Dr Horvat is a project partner of our NERC MOSAiC project.
Impact The collaborative workshop (called FSD workshop, held on July 6-7, 2015 at the Scottish Association for Marine Science). The collaboration resulted in a co-authored paper. This collaboration continued to grow, and he is now a formal project partner in the NERC MOSAiC project. This collaboration is not multi-disciplinary, but his expertise lies in numerical modelling but our research in observations, forming a collaborative research.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with OSU - Jenny Hutchings 
Organisation Oregon State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team is providing high-precision ice dynamics buoys to record cm-accuracy ice deformation fields. This data set contributes to Jenny Hutchings research in building multiscale deformation fields. We also provide logistical and scientific contribution to her summer observation during the MOSAiC fieldwork.
Collaborator Contribution Jenny Hutchings from Oregon State University is lead coordinator of sea ice dynamics for MOSAiC program and a project partner of NERC MOSAiC (MOSAiCFSD) project. In December 2018, she visited our research team at Huddersfield and discussed about fieldwork planning, science and logistics. Her team is providing the support for our winter observation of ice dynamics. The success of our research depends on a year-long (continuous) observation, and her team's contribution is crucial to make this happened.
Impact The outcomes of this collaboration include more coordinated efforts and documentation for the collaborative fieldworks. It will grow more in scientific collaboration in coming years. This collaboration is not multi-disciplinary, the same geophysical research.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with PSC at UW 
Organisation University of Washington
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The NERC funded projects (NE/L012707/1) allowed us to develop state-of-the-art algorithm to derive sea ice floe size distribution (FSD) from high-resolution satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. Some of the derived FSD data have been contributed to collaborative research with Dr. Zhang at PSC/UW. We provided sea ice FSD (ranging between 200 m to 2 km) that significantly contributed to calibration of the recently developed numerical sea ice FSD model. Dr Zhang is now a project partner in the NERC MOSAiC project (NE/S0025454/1).
Collaborator Contribution Dr. Zhang contributed my NERC projects by providing detailed comparison between satellite-derived sea ice FSD and model-simulated FSD. This type of studies have not been attempted before. Some results of this collaborative partnership contributed to one co-authored manuscript submitted to Elementa. Dr Zhang has contributed to the NERC MOSAiC project (NE/S0025454/1 ) by proving his expertise on numerical modelling.
Impact The collaboration resulted in a co-authored paper published in 2016 and another paper in review, as well as a NERC proposal in 2018.
Start Year 2014
 
Description 2018 UK Sea Ice Group Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I gave a talk on sea ice floe size (algorithms, analysis and physical implication) at the 2018 UK Sea Ice Group Meeting, NOC, UK. The talk sparked the interests of audience and initiated the discussions on key research issues of Marginal Ice Zone process. This led to request for further information in terms of data analysis and interpretation for next year's meeting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Featured story in Yorkshire Post newspaper 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact NERC MOSAiC project work was featured in the Yorkshire Post published on 21th September, 2018. The article introduced the Arctic research funded by NERC MOSAiC and explained the historical background behind MOSAiC program and urgent needs for Arctic research on climate change. Although the impact is difficult to assess, this article would be seen by general audience in Yorkshire region and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Guest speaker at SOLAS Workshop on Remote Sensing for Studying the Ocean-Atmosphere Interface 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited as a guest speaker at the SOLAS (Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study) Workshop on Remote Sensing for Studying the Ocean-Atmosphere Interface, USA. In this talk, I introduced my research on Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ) from the algorithm development to process studies. This talk raised the importance of MIZ process related research and discussions and led to future related activity within SOLAS community: forming a discussion session on MIZ process at the SOLAS Open Science Conference to be held in Japan in April 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2018
URL https://www.confmanager.com/main.cfm?cid=2778&nid=16562
 
Description featured in Discover magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact NERC MOSAiC funded activity was featured in the annual magazine published by University of Huddersfield. I am not aware of any direct impact, but this story increased the awareness of Arctic research and its importance in understanding of climate change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://discover.hud.ac.uk