Abstract

Ocean waves penetrate hundreds of kilometres into the ice-covered ocean. Waves fracture the level ice into small floes, herd floes, introduce warm water and overwash the floes, accelerating ice melt and causing collisions, which concurrently erodes the floes and influences the large-scale deformation. Concomitantly, interactions between waves and the sea ice cause wave energy to reduce with distance travelled into the ice cover, attenuating wave driven effects. Here a pilot experiment in the ice tank at Aalto University (Finland) is presented to discuss how the properties of irregular small amplitude (linear) waves change as they propagate through continuous model sea ice. Irregular waves with a JONSWAP spectral shape were mechanically generated with a very low initial wave steepness to avoid ice break up and maintain a consistent continuous ice cover throughout the experiments. Observations show an exponential attenuation of wave energy with distance. High frequency components attenuated more rapidly than the low frequency counterparts, in agreement with a frequency-cubed power-law. The more effective attenuation in the high frequency range induced a substantial downshift of the spectral peak, stretching the dominant wave component as it propagates in ice.

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