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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-141
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-141
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 31 Jul 2018

Research article | 31 Jul 2018

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.

Physical and optical characteristics of heavily melted "rotten" Arctic sea ice

Carie M. Frantz1,2, Bonnie Light1, Samuel M. Farley1, Shelly Carpenter1, Ross Lieblappen3,4, Zoe Courville4, Mónica V. Orellana1,5, and Karen Junge1 Carie M. Frantz et al.
  • 1Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 98105 USA
  • 2Department of Geosciences, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, 84403 USA
  • 3Vermont Technical College, Randolph, VT, 05061 USA
  • 4US Army Engineer Research Development Center – Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire, 39180 USA
  • 5Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, Washington, 98109 USA

Abstract. Field investigations of the properties of heavily melted "rotten" Arctic sea ice were carried out on shorefast and drifting ice off the coast of Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska during the melt season. While no formal criteria exist to qualify when ice becomes "rotten", the objective of this study was to sample melting ice at the point where its structural and optical properties are sufficiently advanced beyond the peak of the summer season. Baseline data on the physical (temperature, salinity, density, microstructure) and optical (light scattering) properties of shorefast ice were recorded in May and June 2015. In July of both 2015 and 2017, small boats were used to access drifting "rotten" ice within ~32km of Utqiaġvik. Measurements showed that pore space increased as ice temperature increased (−8°C to 0°C), ice salinity decreased (10ppt to 0ppt), and bulk density decreased (0.9gcm-3 to 0.6gcm-3). Changes in pore space were characterized with thin-section microphotography and X-ray micro-computed tomography in the laboratory. These analyses yielded changes in average brine inclusion number density (which decreased from 32mm-3 to 0.01mm-3), mean pore size (which increased from 80μm to 3mm) as well as total porosity (increased from 0% to >45%) and structural anisotropy (variable, with values generally less than 0.7). Additionally, light scattering coefficients of the ice increased from approximately 0.06cm-1 to >0.35cm-1 as the ice melt progressed. Together, these findings indicate that Arctic sea ice at the end of melt season is physically different from the often-studied summertime ice. If such rotten ice were to become more prevalent in a warmer Arctic, this could have implications for the exchange of fluid and heat at the ocean surface.

Carie M. Frantz et al.
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Interactive discussion
Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
Carie M. Frantz et al.
Data sets

Extreme summer melt: Assessing the habitability and physical structure of rotting first-year Arctic sea ice K. Junge, B. Light, M. Orellana, C. Frantz, S. Carpenter, and S. Farley https://doi.org/10.18739/A28C9R366

Carie M. Frantz et al.
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Short summary
This paper provides a characterization of the physical and optical properties of "rotten" Arctic sea ice collected in two field seasons from off the coast of Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska. Rotten ice is physically and optically distinct when compared to ice from earlier in the melt season. It is marked by large, connected pores, has lost most of its brine content, and scatters more light. This fragile, permeable ice type may become increasingly important in a warming Arctic.
This paper provides a characterization of the physical and optical properties of "rotten" Arctic...
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