SubZero – Sea Ice Model with an Explicit Representation of a Floe Life Cycle

Brandon Montemuro and Georgy Manucharyan

School of Oceanography, University of Washington


Sea ice is commonly represented in climate models as a continuous fluid with prescribed rheological properties aimed to represent its motion at relatively large scales, O(100km). However, at relatively small scales, O(10 km) and less, sea ice consists of a collection of strongly interacting floes that undergo frequent fractures leading to large-scale motion. Here, we will present a prototype of a new sea ice model (SubZero) that explicitly simulates the lifecycle of individual sea ice floes. Its various capabilities will be demonstrated and physical parameterizations will be discussed, including floe fractures, welding, creation from the open ocean, etc. The key advantage of this model is that its evolution equations can, in principle, be constrained from observations for each individual process parameterization, and hence it could present a valuable alternative to existing rheological models, the parameters of which do not represent explicitly observable quantities.


View model formulation slides

View process studies slides


“SubZero: model formulation” by G.E. Manucharyan “SubZero: process studies” by B.P. Montemuro