An experimental model of wave attenuation in pancake ice

Alberto Alberello, Filippo Nelli, Azam Dolatshah, Luke G. Bennetts, Miguel Onorato, Alessandro Toffoli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the winter, when the Antarctic sea ice cover is expanding, the far edge of the marginal ice zone is populated by small floes with characteristic diameters much smaller than ocean wavelengths and known as pancake ice. This form of sea ice was once only typical of Antarctic waters, but it is now observed in the Arctic due to the intensification of the wave action following ice retreat. Despite recent studies, the governing physics controlling how waves propagate through pancake ice is not understood. To cast new light on the propagation of waves in ice. an experimental model was setup in the Sea Ice Wind Wave Interaction (SIWWI) flume at the University of Melbourne, which allows operations at sub-zero temperatures. To simulate pancakes, the ice cover was modelled using ice cubes with characteristic dimension of a few centimeters (much smaller than the generated wavelength) and different concentrations. Experiments consisted of tracking the propagation of regular and irregular wave fields along the flume to monitor the dissipative effect of the ice cover. Results indicate that wave attenuation depends on ice concentration, with as low as 20 - 40% of energy going through high density covers. Although observations reveal that the ice cover attenuates wave energy over the entire spectrum, energy attenuation is more effective at high frequencies, inducing a significant downshift of the spectral peak.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 29th International Ocean and Polar Engineering Conference, ISOPE 2019
EditorsJin S. Chung, Odd M. Akselsen, HyunWoo Jin, Hiroyasu Kawai, Yongwon Lee, Dmitri Matskevitch, Suak Ho Van, Decheng Wan, Alan M. Wang, Satoru Yamaguchi
PublisherInternational Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781880653852
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event29th International Ocean and Polar Engineering Conference, ISOPE 2019 - Honolulu, United States
Duration: 16 Jun 201921 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference
ISSN (Print)1098-6189
ISSN (Electronic)1555-1792


Conference29th International Ocean and Polar Engineering Conference, ISOPE 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Marginal ice zone
  • Sea ice
  • Wave-ice interaction
  • Waves-in-ice

Cite this