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Thayer School of Engineering


On Arctic sea ice, the melt of snow and sea ice generate a summertime flux of fresh water to the upper ocean. The partitioning of this meltwater to storage in melt ponds and deposition in the ocean has consequences for the surface heat budget, the sea ice mass balance, and primary productivity. Synthesizing results from the 1997-1998 SHEBA field experiment, we calculate the sources and sinks of meltwater produced on a multiyear floe during summer melt. The total meltwater input to the system from snowmelt, ice melt, and precipitation from 1 June to 9 August was equivalent to a layer of water 80ĝ€¯cm thick over the ice-covered and open ocean. A total of 85ĝ€¯% of this meltwater was deposited in the ocean, and only 15ĝ€¯% of this meltwater was stored in ponds. The cumulative contributions of meltwater input to the ocean from drainage from the ice surface and bottom melting were roughly equal.



Original Citation

The Cryosphere, 15, 4517–4525, 2021.