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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
11 Oct 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal The Cryosphere (TC) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Floe-size distributions in laboratory ice broken by waves
Agnieszka Herman1, Karl-Ulrich Evers2, and Nils Reimer2 1Institute of Oceanography, University of Gdansk, Poland
2Arctic Technology, Hamburgische Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt GmbH (Hamburg Ship Model Basin), Hamburg, Germany
Abstract. This paper presents the analysis of floe-size distribution (FSD) data obtained in laboratory experiments of ice breaking by waves. The experiments, performed at the Large Ice Model Basin (LIMB) of the Hamburg Ship Model Basin (Hamburgische Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt, HSVA), consisted of a number of tests in which an initially continuous, uniform ice sheet was broken by regular waves with prescribed characteristics. The floes' characteristics (surface area; minor and major axis, and orientation of equivalent ellipse) were obtained from digital images of the ice sheets after five tests. The analysis shows that although the floe sizes cover a wide range of values (up to 5 orders of magnitude in the case of floe surface area), their probability density functions (pdfs) do not have heavy tails, but exhibit a clear cut-off at large floe sizes. Moreover, the pdfs have a maximum that can be attributed to wave-induced flexural strain, producing preferred floe sizes. It is demonstrated that the observed FSD data can be described by theoretical pdfs expressed as a weighted sum of two components, a tapered power law and a Gaussian, reflecting multiple fracture mechanisms contributing to the FSD as it evolves in time. The results are discussed in the context of theoretical and numerical research on fragmentation of sea ice and other brittle materials.

Citation: Herman, A., Evers, K.-U., and Reimer, N.: Floe-size distributions in laboratory ice broken by waves, The Cryosphere Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Agnieszka Herman et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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RC1: 'Review of "Floe-size distributions in laboratory ice broken by waves"', Christopher Horvat, 20 Nov 2017 Printer-friendly Version 
RC2: 'Review of “Floe-size distribution in laboratory ice broken by waves”', Anonymous Referee #2, 30 Nov 2017 Printer-friendly Version 
AC1: 'Reply to reviews', Agnieszka Herman, 10 Jan 2018 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
Agnieszka Herman et al.
Agnieszka Herman et al.


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Short summary
In regions close to the ice edge, sea ice is composed of many separate ice floes of different sizes and shapes. Strong fragmentation is caused mainly by ice breaking by waves coming from the open ocean. At present, this process, although recognized as important for many other physical processes, is not well understood. In this study we present results of a laboratory study of ice breaking by waves, and we provide interpretation of those results that may guide analysis of other similar datasets.
In regions close to the ice edge, sea ice is composed of many separate ice floes of different...