Simulation of River Ice Cover Growth and Decay

by Gordon M. Greene, NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental, Research Lab, Ann Arbor, MI, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water for Resource Development


A model of ice cover thermodynamics was used to simulate ice growth and decay along the international section of the St. Lawrence River for the winter of 1980-81. At the air-ice interface, the model computes the surface energy transfer components and a resulting equilibrium surface temperature. At the lower boundary, an empirical algorithm simulates the turbulent transfer of heat from the water. Within the ice, an implicit numerical solution to the general heat diffusion equation is used, permitting stable solutions for a variety of time interval and node distances within the model. The model adequately represents growth rates but produces decay rates slower than those observed, presumably because mechanical weakening of the ice was not accounted for. During the growth period, the model is far more sensitive to the values chosen for ice properties than it is to the error range in the meteorological variables. During breakup period, the most sensitive parameter is water temperature.

Subject Headings: Ice | Rivers and streams | Decomposition | Thermodynamics | Heat transfer | Simulation models | Computer models | Temperature effects

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