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Video: Bringing mathematics to sea ice research

Join researcher Ken Golden on an adventure to the Poles, as he explores the mathematics of what's going on inside sea ice.

Credit: NSF/Amina Khan


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Ken Golden wades into icy Arctic waters.

Frogman. A rubber-suited Ken Golden wades into icy Arctic waters to measure the depth of this melt pond. Understanding how environmental conditions like temperature and incoming solar radiation affect percolation, or the movement of water up and down through sea ice, could help scientists better predict how sea ice might respond to changes in its environment.

Credit: Don Perovich


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researchers on the ice

A thin crust of snow hides sea ice in various stages of melting and re-freezing. Sea ice temperature and salinity are critical to determining whether or not percolation will occur.

Credit: Ken Golden


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pools of open water from sea ice and ice

The albedo effect: Networks of melt ponds create darker areas on the otherwise-reflective surface of sea ice. The result? Whereas the white surface of the sea ice reflects solar radiation, the darker melt ponds absorb it. More advanced models of the evolution of melt ponds over the polar summer could help researchers improve long term projections of sea ice melt, and better understand the role of sea ice in Earth's climate system.

Credit: Don Perovich


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Ice core

Pathways through sea ice. Ice core taken from Arctic sea ice shows where brine pockets have connected to form channels, with a distinctly visible pathway in the middle. Channels and pathways like these allow sea water or fresh melt water to move, or percolate, through the sea ice.

Credit: Ken Golden


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