In this talk, I show how concepts from non-equilibrium statistical physics can be employed in the study of climate. The specific problem addressed is the geophysical-scale evolution of Arctic sea ice. Using an analogy with Brownian motion, the original evolution equation for the sea ice thickness distribution function by Thorndike et al. (J. Geophys. Res. 80(33), pp. 4501 — 4513, 1975) is transformed to a Fokker-Planck-like conservation law. The steady solution is $g(h) = {\cal N}(q) h^q \mathrm{e}^{-~ h/H}$, where $q$ and $H$ are expressible in terms of moments over the transition probabilities between thickness categories. The solution exhibits the functional form used in observational fits and shows that for $h \ll 1$, $g(h)$ is controlled by both thermodynamics and mechanics, whereas for $h \gg 1$ only mechanics controls $g(h)$. We also derive the underlying Langevin equation governing the dynamics of the ice thickness $h$, from which we predict the observed $g(h)$. Further, seasonality is introduced by using the Eisenman-Wettlaufer model (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106, pp. 28-32, 2009) for the thermal growth of sea ice. The time-dependent problem is studied by numerically integrating the Fokker-Planck equation. The results obtained from these numerical integrations and their comparison with satellite observations are discussed.

# Mathematical Geoscience Seminar

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Through laboratory experiments, we examine the transport, settling and resuspension of sediments as well as the influence of floating particles upon damping wave motion. Salt water is shown to enhance flocculation of clay and hence increase their settling rate. In studies modelling sediment-bearing (hypopycnal) river plumes, experiments show that the particles that eventually settle through uniform-density fluid toward a sloping bottom form a turbidity current. Meanwhile, even though the removal of particles should increase the buoyancy and hence speed of the surface current, in reality the surface current stops. This reveals that the removal of fresh water carried by the viscous boundary layers surrounding the settling particles drains the current even when their concentration by volume is less than 5%. The microscopic effect of boundary layer transport by particles upon the large scale evolution is dramatically evident in the circumstance of a mesopycnal particle-bearing current that advances along the interface of a two-layer fluid. As the fresh water rises and particles fall, the current itself stops and reverses direction. As a final example, the periodic separation and consolidation of particles floating on a surface perturbed by surface waves is shown to damp faster than exponentially to attain a finite-time arrest as a result of efficiently damped flows through interstitial spaces between particles - a phenomenon that may be important for understanding the damping of surface waves by sea ice in the Arctic Ocean (and which is well-known to anyone drinking a pint with a proper head or a margarita with rocks or slush).