Experiments by Invited Researchers


Oil Detection under Sea Ice (ODSI)

Project acronym: HyIV-HSVA-06
Name of Group Leader: Dr. Jeremy Wilkinson
User-Project Title: Oil Detection under Sea Ice (ODSI)
Data Management Report: Report

User-Project Objectives

For the foreseeable future shipping and exploration for hydrocarbons in the Arctic is likely to occur during the summer open-water period. Should an accident occur towards to end of this period, there is the possibility that oil could be distributed within a field of new ice. It is therefore important to understand the behaviour of oil under young ice, as well as the possibility to remotely detect the presence of oil under and within young ice types. The young ice types grown for our experiments were: (1) frazil ice, (2) nilas, and (3) pancake ice. The aim of the experiments in the Artic Environmental Test Basin was to grow these ice types and characterise the behaviour of oil and evaluate potential detection approaches under these ice types. To date very little information is available on the behaviour of oil spilled within these ice types. This is because there are very few large-scale facilities that have the ability to both grow sea ice and allow the controlled spilling of oil.

Short description of the work carried out

Interesting discoveries regarding the behaviour of oil for each ice type were: Frazil: Unlike other sea ice types the oil was able to penetrate through the frazil mixture and spread out along the ocean/ice surface. This was due to the combination of the loose nature of the frazil mixture, and importantly the presence of a wave field. Nilas: Once sea ice crystals freeze together to form a continuous sheet of ice over the ocean surface our results suggest that it acts as a barrier to the surface migration of oil. No evidence of oil on the ice surface was seen during the nilas spill, although evidence of a vertical migration of oil through brine drainage channels were documented when analyzing ice cores. In the absence of waves it was interesting to see that the loose frazil layer at the bottom of the nilas was able inhibit much of the vertical migration of oil. Under this ice type most of the oil spread out latterly along the ice bottom. Pancake ice: The spread of oil in a pancake field was different again. Cameras located on the bottom of the tank revealed that the deployed oil flowed around the bottom of the pancakes and gathered in the open regions between the cakes. The oil then continued to spread in the area between adjacent pancakes. In certain cases the wave pumping allowed the oil to breach the pancake rims and spread latterly across the upper surface of the pancake. There is still much to be analysed within this unique dataset, but these tests revealed the importance of waves in controlling the spread of oil under young ice types. Furthermore the multi-sensor approach (sonars, visible cameras, IR camera, laser fluorescence and radiometers) we conducted means that we will be better able to understand the temporal and spatial evolution of oil dispersal under different types of newly formed sea ice.

Highlights of important research results

The interpretation of the measured data is on-going, but initial results suggest that oil behaves very differently when spilled under various types of young ice (frazil, nilas, and/or pancake ice). This difference in behaviour suggests that some sensors will be more beneficial than others in detecting oil located under, within, and on top of, these ice types. This has to be verified in further experiments regarding detection of oil in sea ice.

Callinan, C. et alWave Propagation in Frazil/pancake and Fragmented Ice Covers ? part I: Description of the Laboratory Study , 2014 Proceedings of the 22nd IAHR Ice Symposium, Aug. 11-15, 2014, Singapore.
Zhao, X. et al.Wave Propagation in Frazil/pancake and Fragmented Ice Covers ? part II: Preliminary Data Analysis , 2014 Proceedings of the 22nd IAHR Ice Symposium, Aug. 11-15, 2014, Singapore.
Zhao,X. & Shen, H.H.Wave propagation in Frazil Pancake and Fragmented Ice Covers , 2014 (to be submitted to Cold Regions Science and Technology)
Callinan, C., Evers, K.-U., Wilkinson, J. and Shen, H.H.A Laboratory Study of Wave Propagation in Frazil/Pancake and Fragmented Ice Covers , 2014 Report No. 14-02 April 2014 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York, 13699-5710
Wilkinson, J. et al.Oil Detection under Sea Ice Experiments performed in the Experimental Basins at HSVA , 2013 HSVA Report AT 558-14 Oil Detection under Sea Ice_ODSI Internal Report