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Safer Operations in Changing Ice-Covered Seas: Approaches and Perspectives

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IUTAM Symposium on Physics and Mechanics of Sea Ice


The last decades witnessed an increase in Arctic offshore operations, partly driven by rising energy needs and partly due to easing of sea ice conditions and improved accessibility of shipping routes. The study examines changes in sea ice and ocean conditions in the Arctic with their implications for off-shore safety. The objective of the research is to develop a basis for forecasting technologies for maritime operations. We assess loads on off-shore structures from sea ice and ocean in centennial climate future projections and implications for the accessibility and future Arctic shipping. As a test case, we calculate loads on a tubular structure of 100-m wide and 20-m tall, similar to installations in the Beaufort Sea in the 1980s. With sea ice retreating, loads are predicted to increase from ~0.1 × 106 N (MN) at present to ~50–200 MN in the 2090s, primarily due to wave loads. This study asserts the need for new approaches in forecasting to make marine operations in the Arctic safer.

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The authors express their gratitude to the International Union for Applied and Theoretical Mechanics for organizing and supporting the Symposium on Physics of Sea Ice in Helsinki in 2019 and providing an excellent forum for discussions and testing novel ideas. We also thank anonymous reviewers for the very useful feedbacks on the early version of the manuscript. For the research we acknowledge support from EU FP7 “Ships and waves reaching Polar Regions (SWARP)” (GA 607476), from the UK Innovation Safer Operations at Sea—Supported by Operational Simulations SOS-SOS (NE/N017099/1), “Towards a marginal Arctic sea ice cover” (NE/R000085/1), “Preconditioning the trigger for rapid Arctic ice melt” (NE/T000260/1) and funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for Research, Technological Development, and Demonstration under grant agreement FP7-ENV-2013-Two-Stage-603396-RISES-AM. This work also has received financial support from the projects APEAR (NE/R012865/1, NE/R012865/2, #03V01461), ARISE (NE/P006000/1) and Arctic PRIZE (NE/P006078/1), as part of the Changing Arctic Ocean programme, jointly funded by the UKRI Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The study was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 820989 (project COMFORT). The work reflects only the authors’ view; the European Commission and their executive agency are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information the work contains. The sea ice-ocean-wave model simulations have been performed as part of the Regional Ocean Acidification (ROAM) (NE/H01732/1) and part-funded by the EU FP7 EURO-BASIN (FP7/2007-2013, ENV.2010.2.2.1-1; GA264933). This work also used the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service and JASMIN, the UK collaborative data analysis facility. Finally, we are thankful to Dr. Jean Bidlot (ECMWF) for providing model wave data and for his kind advice on the wave modelling.

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Aksenov, Y. et al. (2022). Safer Operations in Changing Ice-Covered Seas: Approaches and Perspectives. In: Tuhkuri, J., Polojärvi, A. (eds) IUTAM Symposium on Physics and Mechanics of Sea Ice. IUTAM Bookseries, vol 39. Springer, Cham.

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