Toward a method for downscaling sea ice pressure for navigation purposes

Lemieux, Jean-François; Tremblay, L. Bruno; Plante, Mathieu

Sea ice pressure poses great risk for navigation; it can lead to ship besetting and damages. Contemporary large-scale sea ice forecasting systems can predict the evolution of sea ice pressure. There is, however, a mismatch between the spatial resolution of these systems (a few kilometres) and the typical dimensions of ships (a few tens of metres) navigating in ice-covered regions. In this paper, the downscaling of sea ice pressure from the kilometre-scale to scales relevant for ships is investigated by conducting high-resolution idealized numerical experiments with a viscous-plastic sea ice model. Results show that sub-grid-scale pressure values can be significantly larger than the large-scale pressure (up to inline-formula∼ 4 times larger in our numerical experiments). High pressure at the sub-grid scale is associated with the presence of defects (e.g. a lead). Numerical experiments show significant stress concentration on both sides of a ship beset in sea ice, especially at the back. The magnitude of the stress concentration increases with the length of the lead (or channel) behind the ship and decreases as sea ice consolidates by either thermodynamical growth or mechanical closing. These results also highlight the difficulty of forecasting, for navigation applications, the small-scale distribution of pressure, and especially the largest values as the important parameters (i.e. the length of the lead behind the ship and the thickness of the refrozen ice) are not well constrained.

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Lemieux, Jean-François / Tremblay, L. Bruno / Plante, Mathieu: Toward a method for downscaling sea ice pressure for navigation purposes. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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