The Bjerknes Centre is a collaboration on climate research, between the University of Bergen, Uni Research, the Institute of Marine Research, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre.

Building forecast system for sea ice

Pierre Rampal gets funding for a new project developing a new forecast system providing key information on ice edge location, wave heights and floe sizes to operators in the Arctic Ocean.

Arctic sea ice in sunset. Photo: V. Dansereau, 2010  

The Norwegian Research Council concluded on proposals in the Klimaforsk-program this week, and among the projects given green light, is Pierre Rampal’s three year project neXtWIM.

In the project neXtWIM: Waves in a next-generation sea ice model, Rampal and colleagues are aiming to provide a forecast system based on ”an extremely realistic sea ice model”.

”For operators in the area at the boundary between the sea ice and the ocean, large waves and broken pieces of ice can be extremely hazardous”, Rampal explains.

”To do this, neXtWIM will incorporate wave-ice interactions into the neXt generation Sea Ice Model, neXtSIM. This sea ice model is currently being developed at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), and has at its core a new elasto-brittle sea ice rheology. This platform will be the first of its kind worldwide, giving NERSC, Bergen and Norway generally a leading role in Arctic science”.
In the last decade the sea ice cover extent in the Arctic has experienced several record lows, producing more open water, and consequently more waves.

Rampal reminds that tourism, shipping and oil and gas industries are seeking to take advantage of the reduced ice cover to expand their operations. In this area, there are also increased risks for accidents.

Another objective of the project is to use the improved sea ice model to set up an Arctic-wide forecast system for sea ice and waves. To assist Arctic infrastructure, such as the Norwegian coastguard and industry, this system will provide information on wave height and floe sizes at the boundary between the sea ice and the ocean.