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SubZero: Sea Ice Modeling with an Explicit Representation of the Floe Life Cycle

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SIPW05 - SIP Follow on: Mathematics of sea ice in the twenty-first century

Sea ice dynamics span a wide range of scales and exhibit granular behavior as individual floes and fracture networks become evident at length scales O(10—100) km and smaller. Existing floe-scale sea ice models use bonded elements of predefined simple shapes like disks or tetrahedra to represent more complex floe geometries. However, floe-scale modeling remains challenging due to difficulties reconciling discrete elements’ idealized nature with complex floe-scale observations. Our group has developed SubZero, a conceptually new sea ice model geared to explicitly simulate the lifecycles of individual floes by using complex discrete elements with time-evolving shapes. This unique model uses parameterizations of floe-scale processes, such as collisions, fractures, ridging, and welding, to bypass resolving intra-floe bonded elements. I will demonstrate the novel capabilities of the SubZero sea ice model using idealized experiments, including the summer-time sea ice flow through the Nares Strait and a winter-time equilibration of floe size and ice thickness distributions. SubZero could provide a valuable alternative to existing discrete element and continuous sea ice models for simulations of floe interactions.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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