The impact of the sea ice conditions in the nearshore zone and shore ice on the wave propagation and coastal morphodynamics in polar regions on the example of southwestern Spitsbergen

The main objective of this project is understanding of the influence of the ice - its presence, amount and type on transformation of the polar coastal zones and on the redistribution of the sediment due to action of wind waves, tides and currents. Subjects of the project are measurements, numerical modelling and prediction of changes.

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Project type

  • field work
  • remote sensing
  • modelling
  • long-term monitoring


  • cryosphere
  • geology
  • oceanography
  • other

Project Keywords

  • oceans / coastal processes / intertidal zone
  • cryosphere / sea ice / ice types
  • oceans / bathymetry/seafloor topography / bathymetry
  • oceans / ocean circulation / ocean currents
  • land surface / geomorphology / glacial landforms/processes
  • cryosphere / sea ice / sea ice concentration
  • oceans / ocean waves / wave types
  • oceans / ocean waves / significant wave height
  • oceans / ocean waves / wave spectra
  • oceans / ocean waves / wave speed/direction
  • oceans / marine sediments / sediment transport
  • oceans / marine sediments / sedimentation
  • oceans / coastal processes / coastal elevation
  • oceans / coastal processes / deltas
  • oceans / coastal processes / dunes
  • oceans / coastal processes / erosion
  • oceans / coastal processes / lagoons
  • oceans / coastal processes / storm surge
  • oceans / coastal processes / tidal height
  • oceans / ocean circulation / wind-driven circulation
  • land surface / erosion/sedimentation / sedimentation
  • land surface / erosion/sedimentation / sediments

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Recent climate change manifests itself in shrinking Arctic sea ice cover, decline of glaciers and permafrost, as well as an increase in meteorological extreme events. All those factors are crucal for processes taking lace in the polar coastal zones. The decline of permafrost increases the coasts' susceptibility to erosion; the recession of ice sheets and glaciers leads to the increase of the global sea levels; and extreme weather events are associated with storm surges and high wind waves hitting the coast. The most dynamically changing processes are related to sea conditions (wave, currents, sea ice). Sea ice, as well as polygenetic shore ice, are among the most important factors protecting the coasts against erosion. The main objective of this project is a better understanding of the influence of the ice - its presence, amount and type (sea ice, shore ice) on transformation of the polar coastal zones and on the redistribution of the sediment due to a combined action of wind waves, tides and currents. Subjects of the project are measurements, numerical modelling and prediction of changes taking place on the coastal, both in the terrestrial and underwater zone. The project will combine the following aspects of the coastal zone research: - Analysis of morphological changes in the coastal zone; - Continuous recording of parameters affecting the increasing the coastal erosion – wave, tidal, currents; - Analysis of the coast protective elements – sea ice conditions and polygenetic shore ice; - Analysis of material transport and sediment deposition. The research will be carried out by probe sampling (sediments, shore ice structure), meteorological (wind speed and direction), geodetic (mapping, GPS), oceanographic (wave propagation, current, sea ice condition) and geophysical methods (side scan sonar, sediment profiler, GPR). The collected wave and current measurement combined with the available archival data and meteorological data, will allow to identification of synoptic situation conductive to coastal erosion. Geomorphological analysis, both the land and underwater coastal areas will allow isolating different morphological forms and to determine their variability. Study of the structure of polygenetic shore ice demonstrate its diversity and determine the importance of the coastal zone protection and rebuilding. Measurements of sea ice condition on the bay, conducted simultaneously with wave and meteorological situation, will determine its effect. The primary tool for numerical modeling of coastal zone will be Delft3D model. Because Delft3D code is Open Source Community, it can be modified and extended in the project to take into account the impact of the sea ice condition on the wave and currents propagation, and consequently the coastal erosion and material transport. The current Delft3D version does not allow to modeling the sea ice condition, it is planned to develop and implement algorithms that describe the impact of sea ice on the wave, wind, currents condition and material transport in the coastal zone. For this purpose, existing models describing the wind and waves damping be sea ice formulated for deep-water areas. Numerical modeling tasks within this project complement those currently under way in the Delft3D group that include the development of adapted to shallow coastal zone sea ice model. Algorithms for sea ice influence in the coastal zone executed in the project, implemented in the Delf3D model, can be used to similar studies in other parts of polar regions. Taking into account expansive exploration of natural resources in the Arctic Ocean basin, is expected that on coastal areas land bases will be located. Sea and shore ice inclusion in the coastal erosion model will be important for the safety of their location.

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