Small-scale computational fluid dynamics modelling of the wave induced ice floe-grease ice interaction in the Antarctic marginal ice zone

Rutger Marquart, Alfred Bogaers, Sebastian Skatulla, Alberto Alberello, Alessandro Toffoli, Carina Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Computational sea ice models have been developed to simulate sea ice formation, melt and motion characteristics on a regional scale. However, the highly dynamic sea ice behaviour in the Antarctic marginal ice zone (MIZ), the area where sea ice and ocean waves interact, still eludes reliable prediction. This is due to the complex sea ice composition consisting of relatively small and mobile ice floes governed by collision and fracture mechanisms. To improve the accuracy of sea ice models, the realistic sea ice distribution needs to be accounted for at a high resolution so that key aspects defining the interplay of ice motion and wave propagation can be suitably distinguished. In this work a computational fluid dynamics model based on the small-scale continuum approach has been developed to simulate the dynamics of a heterogeneous sea ice cover. The model makes use of a realistic sea ice layout and studies the mechanical behaviour of sea ice as affected by wave forcing and the specific material properties of ice floes and grease ice. Taking advantage of the continuum approach paired with a heterogeneous sea ice cover, the floe-grease ice interaction is elucidated by discussing detailed temporal and spatial distributions of the mechanical response of sea ice. Results show that the interplay between waves and the ice floe collision behaviour is directly controlled by sea ice inertia, where the frequency and severity of ice floe collisions increase with the wave period. Furthermore, the interaction of grease ice with ice floes through form drag at the interface leads to high localised grease ice strain rate gradients and low viscosity values due its shear thinning characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104108
JournalCold Regions Science and Technology
Early online date28 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Dec 2023


  • CFD
  • Sea ice rheology
  • Marginal ice zone
  • Ice floe collision
  • Ice floe-grease ice interaction
  • OpenFOAM

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