Ice growth and solar heating in springtime leads

  • Perovich D
  • Richter-Menge J
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The large thermal contrast between the cold atmosphere and the
relatively warm ocean in springtime leads results in rapid ice growth
and large fluxes of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere and of salt
from the ice to the ocean, However, the magnitude of the ice growth and
of the fluxes is moderated by solar radiation absorbed in the ice and
upper ocean, During the Arctic lead experiment (LeadEx) we monitored ice
conditions at four springtime leads during the first few days of growth.
The experiment took place in March-April 1992 in the Beaufort Sea (73
degrees N, 146 degrees W). Two of the leads were was approximately a kilometer wide, and the fourth was quite large, more
than a few kilometers wide. Ice thickness typically increased rapidly,
with 15-20 cm of growth in the first few days. The crystallographic
analysis of a series of ice cores taken across and along the edge of one
of the smaller leads indicated that granular ice was more abundant along
the edges (30%) of the lead than in the central part of the lead
(10%). Observations suggest that thermodynamics processes dominated ice
growth in these leads. Additional thickening of the ice at the edge of
the leads was common because of rafting of the young ice and the
accumulation of blowing snow. Ice temperature profiles exhibited a
diurnal cycle induced by solar radiation, with daily oscillations of
roughly 5 degrees C observed in the interior of the lead ice.
Theoretical simulations for one lead indicated that during the first few
days of ice growth, 30% of the incident solar irradiance was absorbed
in the ice and 25% was absorbed in the upper ocean. The total amount of
solar energy absorbed in the ice during this period was roughly
equivalent to 4 cm of ice growth. The solar heating in ice and water is
roughly comparable in magnitude to the net longwave and is approximately
two thirds of the turbulent fluxes.

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  • doi:10.102

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  • D. K. Perovich

  • J. a. Richter-Menge

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