2014–2015

Ice-Ocean Interactions

Earth and Environmental Science

The Arctic Ocean is losing its sea ice at a rate that suggests an ice-free Arctic in the coming decades. How do these changes affect the ocean? The region of seasonal ice cover is expanding, and how the transition from ice-free to ice-covered occurs over the annual cycle poses a number of questions. Ocean modeling studies suggest that the strong gradients of density created by freshwater from ice-melt in the summer give rise to a host of interesting dynamics. How do heat flux and winds interact with the ocean in this region where ice melts and reforms seasonally? How does ice formation affect the dynamics? These are some of the questions that we aim to address through this study.

A student would explore data sets from the Arctic obtained from autonomous instruments deployed under the sea ice. They would work toward constructing a thermodynamic ice model that could interact with an ocean model to simulate the feedbacks between ice and ocean on scales ranging from meters to kilometers. Some mathematical and computer programming skills and analysis tools like Matlab/Python are useful.

The student would address a question that is highly relevant to climate change today and help in pushing forward our understanding in the rapidly changing Arctic Ocean. They would also acquire analysis and research skills, and have the opportunity to communicate their work through a presentation and report.