Surface and basal sea ice melt from autonomous buoy arrays during the 2014 sea ice retreat in the Beaufort/Chukchi Seas
Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:40 PM
As the Arctic continues its transition to a seasonal ice cover, the nature and role of the processes driving sea ice retreat are expected to change. Key questions revolve around how the coupling between dynamics and thermodynamic processes and potential changes in the role of melt ponds contribute to an accelerated seasonal ice retreat. To address these issues, 44 autonomous platforms were deployed in four arrays in the Beaufort Sea in March, 2014, with an additional array deployed in August in the Chukchi Sea to monitor the evolution of ice conditions during the seasonal sea ice retreat. Each “5-dice” array included four or five co-sited ice mass balance buoys (IMB) and wave buoys with digital cameras, and one automatic weather station (AWS) at the array center. The sensors on these buoys, combined with satellite imagery monitoring the large-scale evolution of the ice cover, provide a near-complete history of the processes involved in the seasonal melt of sea ice. We present a preliminary analysis of the contributions of several key processes to the seasonal ice decay. The evolution of surface ponding was observed at several sites with differing ice types and surface morphologies. The records of surface melt and ice thickness demonstrate a key role of ice type in driving the evolution of the ice cover. Analysis of the surface forcing and estimates of solar energy partitioning between the surface and upper ocean is compared to the surface and basal mass balance from the IMBs. The role of ice divergence and deformation in driving sea ice decay – in particular its role in accelerating thermodynamic melt processes - is discussed.