Science & Technology

Yale Scientists Solve the Problem of Sea Ice Thickness Distribution

Yale Scientists Solve the Problem of Sea Ice Thickness Distribution

Utilizing molecular ideas and treating the ice floes of the frozen seas like colliding molecules in a fluid or fuel, researchers at Yale College have answered a 40-year-old query about Arctic ice thickness.

Though immediately’s extremely exact satellites do a high quality job of measuring the space of sea ice, measuring the quantity has at all times been a tough enterprise. The amount is mirrored by the distribution of sea ice thickness — which is topic to a quantity of advanced processes, akin to development, melting, ridging, rafting, and the formation of open water.

For many years, scientists have been guided by a 1975 principle (by Thorndike et al.) that might not be utterly examined, as a consequence of the unwieldy nature of sea ice thickness distribution. The idea relied upon a time period that might not be associated to the others, which represented the mechanical redistribution of ice thickness. In consequence, the full principle couldn’t be mathematically examined.

Enter Yale professor John Wettlaufer, impressed by the workers and college students at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Summer season Examine Program at the Woods Gap Oceanographic Establishment, in Massachusetts. Over the course of the summer time, Wettlaufer and Yale graduate scholar Srikanth Toppaladoddi developed and articulated a brand new approach of excited about the space-time evolution of sea ice thickness.

The ensuing paper will seem in the September 17 version of the journal Physical Review Letters.

“The Arctic is a bellwether of the international local weather, which is our focus. What we’ve got executed in our paper is to translate ideas utilized in the microscopic world into phrases applicable to this drawback important to local weather,” stated Wettlaufer, who’s the A.M. Bateman Professor of Geophysics, Arithmetic and Physics at Yale.

Wettlaufer and co-author Toppaladoddi recast the previous principle into an equation just like a Fokker-Planck equation, a partial differential equation utilized in statistical mechanics to foretell the likelihood of discovering microscopic particles in a given place below the affect of random forces. By doing this, the equation may seize the dynamic and thermodynamic forces at work inside polar sea ice.

“We remodeled the intransigent time period into one thing tractable and — poof — solved it,” Wettlaufer stated.

The researchers stated their equation opens up the research of this facet of local weather science to a spread of strategies usually utilized in nonequilibrium statistical mechanics.

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