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Theory of the Sea Ice Thickness Distribution
KTH, Centres, Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics NORDITA.
2015 (English)In: Physical Review Letters, ISSN 0031-9007, E-ISSN 1079-7114, Vol. 115, no 14, 148501Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We use concepts from statistical physics to transform the original evolution equation for the sea ice thickness distribution g(h) from Thorndike et al. into a Fokker-Planck-like conservation law. The steady solution is g(h) = N(q)h(q)e(-h/H), where q and H are expressible in terms of moments over the transition probabilities between thickness categories. The solution exhibits the functional form used in observational fits and shows that for h << 1, g(h) is controlled by both thermodynamics and mechanics, whereas for h >> 1 only mechanics controls g(h). Finally, we derive the underlying Langevin equation governing the dynamics of the ice thickness h, from which we predict the observed g(h). The genericity of our approach provides a framework for studying the geophysical-scale structure of the ice pack using methods of broad relevance in statistical mechanics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 115, no 14, 148501
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-175911DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.148501ISI: 000362096600010ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84944144941OAI: diva2:867137

QC 20151104

Available from: 2015-11-04 Created: 2015-10-26 Last updated: 2015-11-04Bibliographically approved

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Wettlaufer, John S.
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