Application of Discrete Element Methods to Approximate Sea Ice Dynamics
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Application of Discrete Element Methods to Approximate Sea Ice Dynamics

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    Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10(9), 2228-2244.
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  • Description:
    Abstract Lagrangian models of sea ice dynamics have several advantages over Eulerian continuum models. Spatial discretization on the ice floe scale is natural for Lagrangian models and offers exact solutions for mechanical nonlinearities with arbitrary sea ice concentrations. This allows for improved model performance in ice-marginal zones, where sea ice is fragmented. Furthermore, Lagrangian models can explicitly simulate jamming processes that occur when sea ice moves through narrow confinements. While difficult to parameterize in continuum formulations, jamming emerges spontaneously in dense granular systems simulated in a Lagrangian framework. Here we present a flexible discrete element framework for approximating Lagrangian sea ice mechanics at the ice floe scale, forced by ocean and atmosphere velocity fields. Our goal is to evaluate the potential of models simpler than the traditional discrete element methods for granular dynamics. We demonstrate that frictionless contact models based on compressive stiffness alone are unlikely to produce jamming and describe two different approaches based on Coulomb friction and cohesion which both result in increased bulk shear strength of the granular assemblage. The frictionless but cohesive contact model displays jamming behavior which is similar to the more complex model with Coulomb friction and ice floe rotation at larger scales and has significantly lower computational cost.
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