Stieltjes functions and spectral analysis in the physics of sea ice

Golden, Kenneth M.; Murphy, N. Benjamin; Hallman, Daniel; Cherkaev, Elena

Polar sea ice is a critical component of Earth’s climate system. As a material, it is a multiscale composite of pure ice with temperature-dependent millimeter-scale brine inclusions, and centimeter-scale polycrystalline microstructure which is largely determined by how the ice was formed. The surface layer of the polar oceans can be viewed as a granular composite of ice floes in a sea water host, with floe sizes ranging from centimeters to tens of kilometers. A principal challenge in modeling sea ice and its role in climate is how to use information on smaller-scale structures to find the effective or homogenized properties on larger scales relevant to process studies and coarse-grained climate models. That is, how do you predict macroscopic behavior from microscopic laws, like in statistical mechanics and solid state physics? Also of great interest in climate science is the inverse problem of recovering parameters controlling small-scale processes from large-scale observations. Motivated by sea ice remote sensing, the analytic continuation method for obtaining rigorous bounds on the homogenized coefficients of two-phase composites was applied to the complex permittivity of sea ice, which is a Stieltjes function of the ratio of the permittivities of ice and brine. Integral representations for the effective parameters distill the complexities of the composite microgeometry into the spectral properties of a self-adjoint operator like the Hamiltonian in quantum physics. These techniques have been extended to polycrystalline materials, advection diffusion processes, and ocean waves in the sea ice cover. Here we discuss this powerful approach in homogenization, highlighting the spectral representations and resolvent structure of the fields that are shared by the two-component theory and its extensions. Spectral analysis of sea ice structures leads to a random matrix theory picture of percolation processes in composites, establishing parallels to Anderson localization and semiconductor physics and providing new insights into the physics of sea ice.

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Golden, Kenneth M. / Murphy, N. Benjamin / Hallman, Daniel / et al: Stieltjes functions and spectral analysis in the physics of sea ice. 2023. Copernicus Publications.

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