Impact of a new anisotropic rheology on simulations of Arctic sea ice

Authors

  • M. Tsamados,

    1. National Centre for Earth Observation: Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, University College London, London
    2. National Centre for Earth Observation: Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
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  • D. L. Feltham,

    1. National Centre for Earth Observation: Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, University College London, London
    2. National Centre for Earth Observation: Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
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  • A. V. Wilchinsky

    1. National Centre for Earth Observation: Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, University College London, London
    2. National Centre for Earth Observation: Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
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Corresponding author: M. Tsamados, Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, PO Box 243, Reading RG6 6BB, UK. (m.c.tsamados@reading.ac.uk)

Abstract

[1] A new rheology that explicitly accounts for the subcontinuum anisotropy of the sea ice cover is implemented into the Los Alamos sea ice model. This is in contrast to all models of sea ice included in global circulation models that use an isotropic rheology. The model contains one new prognostic variable, the local structure tensor, which quantifies the degree of anisotropy of the sea ice, and two parameters that set the time scale of the evolution of this tensor. The anisotropic rheology provides a subcontinuum description of the mechanical behavior of sea ice and accounts for a continuum scale stress with large shear to compression ratio and tensile stress component. Results over the Arctic of a stand-alone version of the model are presented and anisotropic model sensitivity runs are compared with a reference elasto-visco-plastic simulation. Under realistic forcing sea ice quickly becomes highly anisotropic over large length scales, as is observed from satellite imagery. The influence of the new rheology on the state and dynamics of the sea ice cover is discussed. Our reference anisotropic run reveals that the new rheology leads to a substantial change of the spatial distribution of ice thickness and ice drift relative to the reference standard visco-plastic isotropic run, with ice thickness regionally increased by more than 1 m, and ice speed reduced by up to 50%.

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