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Non-belspo (1998-ongoing)

INTERICE - Interdisciplinary Ice tank Experiment

Project description

INTERICE is a multidisciplinary ice tank study, involving an international team of scientists (Belgium, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, Finland, The United States…). The ice tank offers the possibility of refining field measurements by carrying out experiments under fully controlled environmental conditions. Work on physical, biogeochemical, and sedimentological aspects of growth processes of artificial sea ice using the large indoor tank complement observations from both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Tank experiments have several advantages over field investigations. Because most sea ice measurements are performed by destructive sampling techniques, a large ice area with homogeneous properties is advantageous for conducting time-series studies. This is achievable in an indoor tank, while natural sea ice is known to be highly variable even on the meter scale. Usually, the history of a particular ice floe selected for sampling is not known. In an ice tank, air, ice and water temperatures are easily monitored, and temperature forcing can be controlled. For biogeochemical investigations, an ice tank provides a unique opportunity to study background chemical processes without the presence of biological activity. Therefore it is possible to distinguish between primary processes caused by the ice formation and superimposed secondary processes, such as algal activity. Also, the logistics necessary for tank studies are much easier than those of field expeditions. However, tank experiments have potential drawbacks: generating a large quantity of artificial sea water with physico-chemical characteristics close to natural polar oceans is one of them. Also, as tank experiments are performed without applying any scaling of the ice properties, the short time available for the experiments can cause problems: temperature gradients and associated growth rates are much higher than for thicker, naturally forming sea ice, and the small achievable ice thicknesses render more complex the comparisons with processes in older natural sea ice.

INTERICE I and II were primary concerned with abiotic processes: effects of various environmental conditions on the physico-chemical properties of sea ice were studied: currents vs. quiet conditions, frazil ice vs. congelation ice growth, growth vs decay a.s.o. INTERICE III introduced the biological component, by inoculating the sea water with batch cultures of Antarctic diatoms (Fragilariopsis cylindrus), and exposing various basins to different light conditions.

Our laboratory is mainly involved in measuring the evolution of the total gas content and gas composition (O2,CO2, N2) in the ice, and its potential interactions with the biological activity.

Complementary resources about this scientific project

Project team


Prof. Dr. Jean-Louis Tison

Involved research group:

Involved Partners:

Partner 2 : Dr. M. Gowing
Institute of Marine Sciences
University of Califormia
Santa Cruz
Tel: (206) 417-4524

Partner 3 : Dr. G. Dieckmann
Alfred Wegener Institute für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Am Handelshafen 12
D-27570 Bremerhaven (Building E-1005)
Tel: +49(471)4831-1808
Fax: +49(471)4831-1149

Partner 4 : Dr. C. Haas
Alfred Wegener Institute für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Bussestrasse 24
D-27570 Bremerhaven (Building F-104)
Tel: +49(471)4831- 1893
Fax: +49(471)4831- 1149

Partner 5 : Dr. T. Mock
Alfred Wegener Institute für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Am Handelshafen 12
D-27570 Bremerhaven (Building E-1015)
Tel: +49(471)4831-1128
Fax: +49(471)4831-1797

Partner 6 : Prof. Dr. D. Thomas
School of Ocean Sciences
University of Wales
Westbury Mount
Bangor UK
Tel: + 44 1248 382878
Fax: + 44 1248 382878

Partner 7 : Dr. S. Papadimitriou
School of Ocean Sciences
University of Wales
Westbury Mount
Bangor, UK
Tel: + 44 1248 382878
Fax: + 44 1248 382878

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