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Salinity Control of Thermal Evolution of Late Summer Melt Ponds on Arctic Sea Ice
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics. Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, Sweden.
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Number of Authors: 82018 (English)In: Geophysical Research Letters, ISSN 0094-8276, E-ISSN 1944-8007, Vol. 45, no 16, p. 8304-8313Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The thermal evolution of melt ponds on Arctic sea ice was investigated through a combination of autonomous observations and two-dimensional high-resolution fluid dynamics simulations. We observed one relatively fresh pond and one saline pond on the same ice floe, with similar depth. The comparison of observations and simulations indicates that thermal convection dominates in relatively fresh ponds, but conductive heat transfer dominates in salt-stratified ponds. Using a parameterized surface energy balance, we estimate that the heat flux to the ice is larger under the saline pond than the freshwater pond when averaged over the observational period. The deviation is sensitive to assumed wind, varying between 3 and 14 W/m(2) for winds from 0 to 5 m/s. If this effect persists as conditions evolve through the melt season, our results suggest that this imbalance potentially has a climatologically significant impact on sea-ice evolution. Plain Language Summary Sea ice provides key feedbacks on polar and global climate, with melt ponds being particularly significant. Melt ponds darken the ice surface, thereby increasing the absorption of sunlight and accelerating ice melt. This study provides a new perspective on melt-pond salinity, its previously unrecognized significance in controlling the thermal properties of ponds, and the potential impact on ice melting as we transition toward a younger sea ice cover. Many state-of-the-art sea ice models represent melt ponds as a freshwater layer with a surface temperature of 0 degrees C, consistent with a past Arctic ocean dominated by desalinated perennial ice and relatively fresh ponds. However, perennial ice has diminished in recent decades, with increasing prevalence of young saline ice. This leads to ponds with a wider range of salinities and temperatures. We show that salinity strongly impacts pond temperatures, using observations of adjacent freshwater and saline melt ponds on Arctic sea ice. Combining this data with model simulations, we find that melt-pond salinity impacts heat transfer to the ice below and the resulting melting rate. Our study reveals that melt-pond salinity and salt stratification are key variables influencing heat transfer in melt ponds, which need to be considered in future model development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 45, no 16, p. 8304-8313
Keywords [en]
melt ponds, Arctic sea ice, salinity of melt ponds, heat flux, ice mass balance buoy, 2-D melt pond model
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-161136DOI: 10.1029/2018GL078077ISI: 000445612500048OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-161136DiVA, id: diva2:1258155
Available from: 2018-10-24 Created: 2018-10-24 Last updated: 2019-02-26Bibliographically approved

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Moon, WoosokJones, David W. Rees
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