Rafting is one of the important deformation mechanisms of sea ice. This process is widespread in the north Caspian Sea, where multiple rafting produces thick sea ice features, which are a hazard to offshore operations. Here we present a one-dimensional, thermal consolidation model for rafted sea ice. We consider the consolidation between the layers of both a two-layer and a three-layer section of rafted sea ice. The rafted ice is assumed to be composed of layers of sea ice of equal thickness, separated by thin layers of ocean water. Results show that the thickness of the liquid layer reduced asymptotically with time, such that there always remained a thin saline liquid layer. We propose that when the liquid layer is equal to the surface roughness the adjacent layers can be considered consolidated. Using parameters representative of the north Caspian, the Arctic, and the Antarctic, our results show that for a choice of standard parameters it took under 15 h for two layers of rafted sea ice to consolidate. Sensitivity studies showed that the consolidation model is highly sensitive to the initial thickness of the liquid layer, the fraction of salt release during freezing, and the height of the surface asperities. We believe that further investigation of these parameters is needed before any concrete conclusions can be drawn about rate of consolidation of rafted sea ice features.
Authors: Bailey, E., Feltham, Daniel, Sammonds, P.R