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Physical processes controlling melt evolution


Project start
Project end
Type of project
Project theme
Sea ice
Project topic
Climate research
Sea ice

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Fieldwork region
Cambridge Bay
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 69.1168641, -105.0596814

Fieldwork start
Fieldwork end

Project details

Science / project plan

Meltwater ponds form at the surface of Arctic sea ice in the spring and significantly modify the partitioning of radiant solar energy between the atmosphere, ice and ocean. Past observations have shown that melt pond coverage can be highly variable over a single melt season, between years at the same location, and between locations. Results from a recent study in Resolute, NU, indicate that the evolution of melt ponds on first-year sea ice is controlled by several physical mechanisms. This includes the development of meltwater drainage channels on the ice surface and macroscopic drainage flaws in the ice cover, which change the pre-melt surface topography and distribution of melt ponds. The project in Cambridge Bay 2014 will attempt to address the following questions. (1) What are the typical patterns of meltwater flow within ponds at different times in the melt season? (2) How does friction at the pond base and sidewall affect flow? (3) Does turbulent flow contribute to the formation of drainage channels and holes? (4) How do these hydrological processes modify the pre-melt surface topography and change the melt pond distribution?

Fieldwork site: Field camp, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada

Project lead: J. Landy. PI: D. Barber

Project Participants: Jack Landy (CEOS); Dr. Jens Ehn (CEOS); Aura Diaz (CEOS); Dr. Randall Scharien (CEOS); Dr. David Barber (CEOS); Kerri Warner (CEOS)

Fieldwork summary/photo blog: Link to project summary report