Earth Institute Research Projects

Collaborative Research: Gas Transfer Through Polar Sea Ice (GAPS)-Mechanisms of Turbulence Production in the Seasonal Ice Zone and Its Control of Mixed Layer Ventilation

Lead PI: Prof. Peter Schlosser , Dr. Christopher J. Zappa , Dr. Wade McGillis

Unit Affiliation: Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

October 2010 - September 2013
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: High latitude ocean and sea ice surface fluxes of heat, momentum, fresh water and radiatively important gases such as carbon dioxide are critical to understanding polar, and thus global, climate processes. Field observations of these fluxes, and the physics and biogeochemistry that control them is hampered alternately by both the high winds and sea states typical of polar seas, and the complex potentially non-linear transport pathways between water, ice and air during conditions of active freezing and partial sea-ice cover.

This project will study, in a unique controlled laboratory facility, the relative contribution of the physical processes that regulate gas exchange through sea ice.

A seasonal evolution cycle of different sea-ice types found in the ice pack, namely 1) pancake ice, 2) complete ice cover, but with leads (openings), and 3) melted ice floes with a freshwater lens, will be simulated in a well controlled laboratory setting. Additionally, different turbulence regimes of wind, wave effects, convection and ice-water current shear at various levels of freezing will be studied in the CRREL sea ice pond facility (New Hampshire).

OUTCOMES: Determined the velocity the pumps are capable of.


National Science Foundation (NSF)




Ocean and Climate Physics (O&CP)


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Department of Army Cold Regions Research & Engineering Lab



oceans gas exchange rates ocean and climate physics kinetic energy sea ice gas transfer