Investigating the summer evolution of floe size distribution in the Beaufort Sea

Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:25 PM
Jacqueline Richter-Menge1, Alexandra E Arntsen2, Carolyn Stwertka3, Donald K Perovich3, Chris Polashenski3 and Arnold Song4, (1)USA CRREL, Hanover, NH, United States, (2)Dartmouth College, Thayer School of Engineering, Hanover, NH, United States, (3)Thayer School of Engineering,Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, United States, (4)CRREL, Hanover, NH, United States
Profound changes occur in the appearance and morphology of the sea ice cover in the Beaufort Sea during summer. The ice transitions from a largely coherent sheet in the late spring to an ensemble of discrete floes surrounded by open water. We examine the thermodynamic and dynamic processes governing this evolution by using a Lagrangian-based time series of nested satellite images. The satellite images were collected by tracking the movement of buoys deployed in the ice cover as they drifted across the Beaufort Sea from April to October 2013. Radarsat images provide the large scale context. Higher resolution (up to 1 meter) images from TerraSAR-X, Worldview, and the US Geological Survey Global Fiducial Program, taken around the same time, provide detailed characteristics of the ice cover and its evolution. Using the images we compute time series of ice concentration, floe size distribution, and floe characteristics, including number, size, shape and perimeter. The results of this analysis are used to investigate the floe breaking function, which quantitatively describes the influence of dynamics on the floe size distribution.