Sea ice in the Arctic has significant impacts on biology, oceanography, climate, and economic activities. Through a detailed system of interrelated measurement and modeling experiments, this project will result in a better understanding of the processes in first-year sea ice that affect its energy budget, and therefore its growth, decay, and physical properties, which determine the details of its effect on other natural and human systems. Over the last decade, first-year ice has become the predominant i ce type across the entire Arctic.
Most measurements of the radiation budget on sea ice are made either at scales of 10 m or less, from the surface, or at scales of more than 100 m, from satellite or aircraft platforms. Here we will use a system to make small-scale measurements of the radiation budget of sea ice, but to do so over a 500×500 meter grid, providing the process-understanding benefits of the local measurements with the system-understanding benefits of the aerial measurements. The result will be data that provide an understanding of how individual processes affect the local (meter-scale) energy budget, and how those local effects then impact both the local and the large-scale development of the ice.
In such a complex system as sea ice, it is not always possible diagnose exact cause and effect relationships from measurements alone. Therefore, the project incorporates a modeling component, in which a radiative transfer model of the system will be used to further understand the measurements ma de in the field.
The result of the project will be a detailed understanding of processes that affect the development of sea ice, which will prove valuable to sea-ice modelers trying to explain large-scale changes in sea ice, and to those studying the nat ural and human systems that are impacted by sea ice.