Ice floe dispersion from moderate resolution remote sensing imagery.

Rosalinda Lopez, University of California Riverside, Mechanical Engineering, Riverside, CA, United States and Monica M. Wilhelmus, Brown University, Center for Fluid Mechanics, School of Engineering, Providence, United States
Sea ice transport directly affects the heat budget and freshwater flux in the Arctic. Driven by wind and ocean currents, sea ice drifts and inevitably interacts with the underlying turbulent eddy field. In particular, as ice floes drift, freshwater fluxes due to melting can modify the structure of the underlying ocean stratification (depending on the spreading rate between neighboring ice floes). As a result, the size and energy content of the meso- and submeso-scale eddy fields can change, in turn affecting sea ice dispersion. Quantifying the dispersion regime of free drifting sea ice is thus crucial to understand the Arctic climate system. In this talk, we retrieve the trajectories of ice floes along the eastern coast of Greenland during the spring of 2017 by employing a newly developed in-house tracking algorithm to analyze the dispersion regime in the region. Our algorithm processes Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer satellite images, identifying and tracking ice floes with length scales ranging from 8 to 65 km. Sea ice velocity is then quantified by analyzing these trajectories. From this data, differential kinematic parameters of free drifting ice floes are estimated, such as absolute dispersion and ice floe rotation. With this information, we examine the effect of small scale oceanic turbulence on sea ice drift and discuss the feasibility of extending our study to improve our understanding of sea-ice ocean interactions.