Estimating a mean transport velocity in the marginal ice zone using ice-ocean prediction systems
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Cryosphere. 2022, 16 (5), 2103-2114. 10.5194/tc-16-2103-2022
Understanding the transport of objects and material in the marginal ice zone (MIZ) is critical for human operations in polar regions. This can be the transport of pollutants, such as spilled oil, or the transport of objects, such as drifting ships and search and rescue operations. For emergency response, the use of environmental prediction systems are required which predict ice and ocean parameters and are run operationally by many centres in the world. As these prediction systems predict both ice and ocean velocities, as well as ice concentration, it must be chosen how to combine these data to best predict the mean transport velocities. In this paper we present a case study of four drifting buoys in the MIZ deployed at four distinct ice concentrations. We compare short-term trajectories, i.e. up to 48 h lead times, with standard transport models using ice and ocean velocities from two operational prediction systems. A new transport model for the MIZ is developed with two key features aimed to help mitigate uncertainties in ice–ocean prediction systems: first, including both ice and ocean velocities and linearly weighting them by ice concentration, and second, allowing for a non-zero leeway to be added to the ice velocity component. This new transport model is found to reduce the error by a factor of 2 to 3 for drifters furthest in the MIZ using ice-based transport models in trajectory location after 48 h.