Solving a problem of sea ice density placement regulating molecular concepts

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Yale University scientists have answered a 40-year-old doubt about Arctic ice density by treating a ice floes of a solidified seas like colliding molecules in a liquid or gas.

Image credit: Norbert Untersteiner, 1957

Image credit: Norbert Untersteiner, 1957

Although today’s rarely accurate satellites do a excellent pursuit of measuring a area of sea ice, measuring a volume has always been a wily business. The volume is reflected by a placement of sea ice density — that is theme to a series of formidable processes, such as growth, melting, ridging, rafting, and a arrangement of open water.

For decades, scientists have been guided by a 1975 speculation (by Thorndike et al.) that could not be totally tested, due to a unmanageable inlet of sea ice density distribution. The speculation relied on a tenure that could not be associated to a others, that represented a automatic redistribution of ice thickness. As a result, a finish speculation could not be mathematically tested.

Enter Yale highbrow John Wettlaufer, desirous by a staff and students during a Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Summer Study Program during a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts. Over a march of a summer, Wettlaufer and Yale connoisseur tyro Srikanth Toppaladoddi grown and articulated a new approach of meditative about a space-time expansion of sea ice thickness.

The ensuing paper appears in a Sept. 17 book of a biography Physical Review Letters.

“The Arctic is a bellwether of a tellurian climate, that is a focus. What we have finished in a paper is to interpret concepts used in a little universe into terms suitable to this problem essential to climate,” pronounced Wettlaufer, who is a A.M. Bateman Professor of Geophysics, Mathematics and Physics during Yale.

Wettlaufer and co-author Toppaladoddi recast a aged speculation into an equation identical to a Fokker-Planck equation, a prejudiced differential equation used in statistical mechanics to envision a luck of anticipating little particles in a given position underneath a change of pointless forces. By doing this, a equation could constraint a energetic and thermodynamic army during work within frigid sea ice.

“We remade a intransigent tenure into something flexible and — poof — solved it,” Wettlaufer said.

The researchers pronounced their equation opens adult a investigate of this aspect of meridian scholarship to a accumulation of methods routinely used in nonequilibrium statistical mechanics.

Source: Yale University