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SIP Follow on: Mathematics of Sea Ice in the twenty-first century


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13th July 2020 to 24th July 2020
Alexander Korobkin University of East Anglia
Daniel Feltham University of Reading
Emilian I Parau University of East Anglia
Frank Thomas Smith University College London
Vernon Squire University of Otago

Workshop theme 

This two-week workshop at the Isaac Newton Institute (INI) will build on the successful scientific programme SIP’17 with a similar title that took place at the INI from 21/08/2017 to 20/12/2017. This programme stimulated new areas of enquiry and consolidation of existing work that is continuing. The aims of the present workshop are to support these advances, to give an extra impulse to new research on the mathematics of sea ice, and to review the progress achieved after the SIP’17 programme. The continuing changes in the Earth’s polar sea-ice covers under global warming make advances in the mathematics of sea ice timelier than ever.

Recognizing this urgency and the need for succession planning, the follow-on workshop will include a Summer School for early career researchers with lectures on ice models, ice physics and research challenges. An Industrial Day and a half-day colloquium with the British Antarctic Survey are also planned. Topics of the talks and discussions during the proposed workshop will include but are not limited to:

Large-scale ice models for offshore engineering and shipping, environmental or climate modelling;

Multi-scale ice modelling through several scales;

Quantification of uncertainties in ice modelling;

Parsimonious models of continuous and broken ice.


The workshop will focus on the following key problems and issues.

The misalignment of climate-oriented research and engineering research on floating ice remains substantial. There is a tendency to modify the large-scale models of sea-ice dynamics, primarily developed for environmental or climate modelling, for engineering purposes and shipping. How to combine small-scale and large-scale observations and modelling to form a holistic understanding of sea-ice is poorly understood.

Gaps in our knowledge of sea-ice behaviour limit the application of existing ice models. The restrictive conditions of contemporary ice models are not always clearly appreciated, leading to confusion in the interpretation of results. In fact, some existing mathematical models of ice-structure and ice-ice interactions may not even be grounded in physics.

Some issues with the current modelling of sea ice should be reviewed and revised, including, inter alia, the effect of collision-based rheologies of broken ice on wave damping; mechanisms that remove energy from waves in the presence of floating ice; impact on ice and breaking ice by impact; modelling of the floe size distribution and its influence on the ice mass balance; and the impact of under-represented ice growth, melt, and dissolution processes on the abundance of ice and its thermal and mechanical properties.

The SIP’17 programme demonstrated that there is a tendency to make existing ice models even more complex by including more effects with the addition of more terms and/or embedding extra equations. An alternative parsimonious mathematical methodology makes models simpler by including only the main contributory effects and neglecting many others. The workshop will promote a balanced approach whereby the computational burden of detailed physical representations is weighed against the size of their impact on known metrics or new emergent phenomena.

The workshop will allow researchers from across the globe and from any stage of their careers to come up to speed with contemporary developments, capitalising on progress made in SIP’17 on ice problems.

University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons