Herman, Agnieszka; Cheng, Sukun; Shen, Hayley H.

This work analyses laboratory observations of wave energy attenuation in fragmented sea ice cover composed of interacting, colliding floes. The experiment, performed in a large (72 m long) ice tank, includes several groups of tests in which regular, unidirectional, small-amplitude waves of different periods were run through floating ice with different floe sizes. The vertical deflection of the ice was measured at several locations along the tank, and video recording was used to document the overall ice behaviour, including the presence of collisions and overwash of the ice surface. The observational data are analysed in combination with the results of two types of models: a model of wave scattering by a series of floating elastic plates, based on the matched eigenfunction expansion method (MEEM), and a coupled wave–ice model, based on discrete-element model (DEM) of sea ice and a wave model solving the stationary energy transport equation with two source terms, describing dissipation due to ice–water drag and due to overwash. The observed attenuation rates are significantly larger than those predicted by the MEEM model, indicating substantial contribution from dissipative processes. Moreover, the dissipation is frequency dependent, although, as we demonstrate in the example of two alternative theoretical attenuation curves, the quantitative nature of that dependence is difficult to determine and very sensitive to assumptions underlying the analysis. Similarly, more than one combination of the parameters of the coupled DEM–wave model (restitution coefficient, drag coefficient and overwash criteria) produce spatial attenuation patterns in good agreement with observed ones over a range of wave periods and floe sizes, making selection of “optimal” model settings difficult. The results demonstrate that experiments aimed at identifying dissipative processes accompanying wave propagation in sea ice and quantifying the contribution of those processes to the overall attenuation require simultaneous measurements of many processes over possibly large spatial domains.



Herman, Agnieszka / Cheng, Sukun / Shen, Hayley H.: Wave energy attenuation in fields of colliding ice floes – Part 2: A laboratory case study. 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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