Journal of Geophysical Research, 109, doi:10.1029/2003JC002090., 2004

Thickness Distribution, Texture and Stratigraphy, and a simple probabilistic Model for Dynamical Thickening of Sea Ice in the Southern Sea of Okhotsk

T. Toyota, T. Kawamura, K. I. Ohshima, H. Shimoda, and M. Wakatsuchi
Sea ice thickness data and sea ice samples were analyzed to examine the characteristics of the ice thickness distribution and ice texture, and to understand ice growth processes in the southern Sea of Okhotsk. Ice thickness data and samples were obtained aboard the icebreaker Soya in early February, the ice growth season. Ice thickness data, which were obtained with a video monitoring system installed on the side deck of the ship each winter from 1991 to 2000 except 1995, show that the average thickness ranges from 19 ± 7 to 55 ± 23 cm and that it matches the characteristics of a Poisson distribution. Ice structure analysis reveals that granular texture occupies about three quarters of the total ice thickness and that the ice exhibits a layered structure with unit thickness averaging 5 to 10 cm. Stratigraphy and stable isotopic composition of the ice indicate that snow ice accounts for 10% and frazil ice accounts for 64% of the total ice thickness. This suggests that dynamic ice thickening processes such as frazil ice growth and piling up are more significant than congelation growth. On the basis of these characteristics, which resemble more those of Antarctic than Arctic sea ice, we propose a conceptual model for the ice thickening process in this region. It is shown that this model can explain the shape of the ice thickness distribution well, and is analogous with the concept of the “pancake cycle” and multiple rafting of Antarctic sea ice growth and thickening.