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Break-up of sea ice by ocean waves

  • Patricia J. Langhorne (a1), Vernon A. Squire (a2), Colin Fox (a3) and Timothy G. Haskell (a4)

Abstract

The manner in which sea ice breaks up determines its floe-size distribution. This, together with any redistribution due to ocean currents or winds, alters the fluxes between the atmosphere and the underlying ocean. Many materials fail at stresses well below their flexural strength when subject to repeated bending, such processes being termed fatigue. in some materials a stress exists below which the material will maintain its integrity even if subjected to an infinite number of load cycles. This stress is termed the endurance limit. We report a scries of field experiments to investigate the fatigue behaviour of first-year sea ice that subjected in situ cantilever beams to repeated bending with zero mean stress. These tests suggest that an endurance limit exists for sea ice, and that it is approximately 60% of the flexural strength. Using theory and data from wave experiments performed in similar conditions to the fatigue experiments, estimates are made of the conditions under which wave-induced break-up occurs. These indicate that fatigue may be a neglected ingredient of sea-ice failure due to wave-induced motion.

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References

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