Microstructure of porous solids: Sea ice

Sea ice is a complex maze of water ice, brine, and air bubbles that acts as a permeable barrier between the polar oceans and the boundary layer atmosphere, mediating the exchange of heat, fluids, and gases and in doing so playing an important role in global climate. Current understanding of the morphology and variability of brine networks in sea ice is inadequate, both for the most accurate interpretation of sea ice data and for use in regional and larger scale climate models. Using micro X-ray computed tomography and applied mathematics, we are working on new ways to describe the morphology and variability of brine networks in first-year Arctic sea ice. The overall goal of the work is to improve our ability to determine the transport of heat, gases, chemical species, and salts through and within sea ice, and specifically to shed light on the brine drainage and desalination processes.

This work is funded by the National Science Foundation through the Arctic Natural Sciences Program.

Faculty contact: Rachel W. Obbard