We have studied acoustical reflection and scattering properties of the underside of laboratory-grown sea ice. Our purpose was to determine the morphologic characteristics of undeformed sea ice that control acoustic scattering and reflection. So our experiments included both detailed studies of the structure of the ice as well as the application of a variety of acoustic methods.
Ice sheets were grown in an outdoor pond (about 6 m by 13 m by 1.5 m) and exhibited features characteristic of undeformed, cold sea ice: an upper granular zone; a columnar zone of crystals with cross-sectional areas of about 1 cm2; vertical sheets of brine pockets; a bulk salinity of 9.1‰ distributed over 9 cm of ice; a dendritic interface at the ice/water boundary with dendrites about 0.5 mm across at the time of our measurements. Echo-amplitude fluctuations of normal-incidence sonar pings (100 kHz to 800 kHz) were measured as the sonars moved horizontally under the ice and accumulated into echo-amplitude histograms. (Data from a deteriorating ice sheet as well as data on lake ice were also collected.) We fitted the Rice probability density function (PDF) to the data and combined the resultant statistical parameter with Eckart acoustic scattering theory. The reflection coefficients calculated using this method ranged from 0.06 to 0.12, depending on environmental conditions. RMS roughness calculated using data from new sea ice was estimated to be about 0.3 mm. Because our ice thin sections show the ice to be porous and permeable at the interface with dendrites 0.5 mm thick, we suspect that the dendrites control the scattering as described by the echo-amplitude histograms. Further, we attribute the low reflection coefficients to the dendritic structure which may act as an impedance-matching zone into the columnar section of the sea ice.
Transmission measurements were performed by positioning a transducer located at the ice/air interface directly over the transducer located in the water. The total attenuation through 18 cm of ice ranged from 12 dB at 50 kHz to 70 dB at 420 kHz (signal levels were measured relative to the same path in water).