Evolution of Directional Wave Spectra in the Marginal Ice Zone: A New Model Tested with Legacy Data

TitleEvolution of Directional Wave Spectra in the Marginal Ice Zone: A New Model Tested with Legacy Data
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSquire VA, Montiel F
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography

Field experimental data from a 1980s program in the Greenland Sea investigating the evolution of directional wave spectra in the marginal ice zone are reanalyzed and compared with the predictions of a new, phase-resolving, three-dimensional model describing the two-dimensional scattering of the waves by the vast number of ice floes that are normally present. The model is augmented with a dissipative term to account for the nonconservative processes affecting wave propagation. Observations reported in the experimental study are used to reproduce the ice conditions and wave forcing during the experiments. It is found that scattering alone underestimates the attenuation experienced by the waves during their passage through the ice field. With dissipation, however, the model can replicate the observed attenuation for most frequencies in the swell regime. Model predictions and observations of directional spreading are in agreement for short to midrange wave periods, where the wave field quickly becomes isotropic. For larger wave periods, little spreading can be seen in the model predictions, in contrast to the isotropic or near-isotropic seas reported in the experimental study. The discrepancy is conjectured to be a consequence of the inaccurate characterization of the ice conditions in the model and experimental errors.