Moreau, S and Vancoppenolle, M and Zhou, J and Tison, J-L and Delille, B and Goosse, H, Modelling argon dynamics in first-year sea ice, Ocean Modelling, 73 pp. 1-18. ISSN 1463-5003 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Focusing on physical processes, we aim at constraining the dynamics of argon (Ar), a biogeochemically inert gas, within first year sea ice, using observation data and a one-dimensional halo-thermodynamic sea ice model, including parameterization of gas physics. The incorporation and transport of dissolved Ar within sea ice and its rejection via gas-enriched brine drainage to the ocean, are modeled following fluid transport equations through sea ice. Gas bubbles nucleate within sea ice when Ar is above saturation and when the total partial pressure of all three major atmospheric gases (N2, O2 and Ar) is above the brine hydrostatic pressure. The uplift of gas bubbles due to buoyancy is allowed when the brine network is connected with a brine volume above a given threshold. Ice-atmosphere Ar fluxes are formulated as a diffusive process proportional to the differential partial pressure of Ar between brine inclusions and the atmosphere. Two simulations corresponding to two case studies that took place at Point Barrow (Alaska, 2009) and during an ice-tank experiment (INTERICE IV, Hamburg, Germany, 2009) are presented. Basal entrapment and vertical transport due to brine motion enable a qualitatively sound representation of the vertical profile of the total Ar (i.e. the Ar dissolved in brine inclusions and contained in gas bubbles; TAr). Sensitivity analyses suggest that gas bubble nucleation and rise are of most importance to describe gas dynamics within sea ice. Ice-atmosphere Ar fluxes and the associated parameters do not drastically change the simulated TAr. Ar dynamics are dominated by uptake, transport by brine dynamics and bubble nucleation in winter and early spring; and by an intense and rapid release of gas bubbles to the atmosphere in spring. Important physical processes driving gas dynamics in sea ice are identified, pointing to the need for further field and experimental studies.