Ice Scallops: A Laboratory and Numerical Investigation of the Ice-Ocean Interface
Ice scallops are a small-scale (5-15cm) quasi-periodic ripple pattern that occurs at the ice-water interface. Previous work has suggested that scallops form due to a self-reinforcing interaction between an evolving ice-surface geometry, an adjacent turbulent flow field, and the resulting differential melt rates that occur along the interface. In this study, we perform a series of laboratory experiments in a refrigerated flume to investigate the mechanisms of scallop formation. Using particle-image velocimetry, we probe an evolving ice-water boundary layer at sub-millimeter scales and 15Hz frequency. Our data reveals three distinct regimes of ice-water interface evolution: A transition from flat to scalloped ice; an equilibrium scallop geometry; and an adjusting scallop interface. We find that scalloped ice geometry produces a clear modification to the ice-water boundary layer, characterized by a time-mean recirculating eddy feature that forms in the scallop trough. Our primary finding is that scallops form due to a self-reinforcing feedback between the ice-interface geometry and shear production of turbulent kinetic energy in the flow interior. The length of this shear production zone is therefore hypothesized to set the scallop wavelength.
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