Ice Thickness



There are two distinct mechanisms that govern the evolution of sea ice: thermodynamics and dynamics. In a simplistic sense thermodynamics can be considered as the sum of all the energy fluxes affecting the ice. If this sum is positive the ice cools and grows; while warming and melting occur if it is negative. Thermodynamic processes are manifested in a seasonal cycle of sea ice thickness.  Dynamics can cause rapid changes in the thickness distribution of the ice. Divergence can result in open water, while convergence causes ridging and an increase in ice thickness.

While the ice extent can readily be determined from space, unfortunately the ice thickness cannot. As part of our effort, we make an Eulerian measurement of the ice thickness distribution at several locations using an ice profiling sonar (IPS). Presently we have 1 IPS units installed and have retrieved results from 1 unit. We have also obtained historical records for other units. This data can be used to develop an ice thickness climatology and to monitor for temporal changes in ice thickness distribution.