Experiments by Invited Researchers


Understanding the impact of a REduced ice Cover in the ARctic Ocean - RECARO

Project acronym: HyIII-HSVA-03
Name of Group Leader: Dr. Jeremy Wilkinson, Scottish Association for Mar
User-Project Title: Understanding the impact of a REduced ice Cover in the ARctic Ocean - RECARO
Proceedings TA Project: Ice tank experiments highlight changes in arctic sea ice regime
Data Management Report: There is no Data Management Report available for this project

User-Project Objectives


Models predict that the Arctic will have a seasonal ice cover within the next 30 years. The environmental, socio-economic and geopolitical consequences of a reduction in Arctic sea ice will be considerable. Presently a significant portion of the ice formed in the Arctic Ocean forms under calm, non-turbulent conditions. However under an open Arctic Ocean or near-open Arctic Ocean scenario a different ice development process will be initiated. The stages of which may be distinguished as: frazil or grease ice formation, flocculation to form pancake ice, pancake rafting, and possibly then a continuous ice sheet. Within this formation process the development of frazil into pancake ice and other young ice types is one of the least well documented and understood mechanisms of the whole sea ice formation process and represents a major gap in sea ice research. In order to have confidence in the output from coupled ice-ocean models they must be driven by the correct physics using realistic data. Our objective is to quantify this process and to understand the influence sea ice formation has on the water masses involved. This will be achieved through a series of dedicated experiments involving, sea ice physicists, physical oceanographers, remote sensing scientists and theoreticians.

The RECARO programme produced legacies at several levels. First this programme enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration within Europe, as well as fostering strong international links. The legacy of this interaction is better collaborations and a higher profile for European Arctic scientists. Second the consortium brought together a mixture of highly experienced and inexperienced polar scientists. The legacy of this approach is a more experienced generation of polar scientists that will enable Europe to remain at the forefront of Arctic research. Most importantly however is the quality and quantity of data collected. The RECARO project produced one of the most comprehensive data sets on ice-ocean(including waves)- atmosphere interaction available. The data set simultaneously covers meteorological, oceanographic and sea ice parameters. The data will be available in the short-term from the programme website and in perpetuity from dedicated archival centre.

The RECARO project involved over 20 partners from 10 different countries. The expertise spanned a wide range of disciplines including: Sea ice physics, theoretical modelling, physical oceanography, remote sensing, ice mechanics and ice-wave interaction.

In total two papers have been already published in the Proceedings of the 19th IAHR International Symposium on Ice, 6-11 July, 2008 , Vancouver, Canada. One article has been submitted and accepted for publication in Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, (ISSN 0096-3941),

(a) Infrared image of developing pancake ice.
(b) Measuring the frazil ice layer.
(c) Ultrasonic sensors (circled) above pancake ice.
(d) Movable conductivity- temperature- depth profiler.
(e) Optical experiment in tank 1.
(f) In- tank conductivity- temperature- depth