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Madison Smith

Postdoctoral Scholar





Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.A. Earth & Oceanographic Science and Environmental Studies, Bowdoin College, 2014

B.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, 2016

Ph.D. Civil Engineering, University of Washington, 2019


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Frazil ice growth and production during katabatic wind events in the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Thompson, L., M. Smith, J. Thomson, S. Stammerjohn, S. Ackley, and B. Loose, "Frazil ice growth and production during katabatic wind events in the Ross Sea, Antarctica," Cryosphere, 14, 3329-3347, doi:10.5194/tc-14-3329-2020, 2020.

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6 Oct 2020

Katabatic winds in coastal polynyas expose the ocean to extreme heat loss, causing intense sea ice production and dense water formation around Antarctica throughout autumn and winter. The advancing sea ice pack, combined with high winds and low temperatures, has limited surface ocean observations of polynyas in winter, thereby impeding new insights into the evolution of these ice factories through the dark austral months. Here, we describe oceanic observations during multiple katabatic wind events during May 2017 in the Terra Nova Bay and Ross Sea polynyas. Wind speeds regularly exceeded 20 m s-1, air temperatures were below –25°C, and the oceanic mixed layer extended to 600 m. During these events, conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) profiles revealed bulges of warm, salty water directly beneath the ocean surface and extending downwards tens of meters. These profiles reflect latent heat and salt release during unconsolidated frazil ice production, driven by atmospheric heat loss, a process that has rarely if ever been observed outside the laboratory. A simple salt budget suggests these anomalies reflect in situ frazil ice concentration that ranges from 13 to 266x10-3 kg m-3. Contemporaneous estimates of vertical mixing reveal rapid convection in these unstable density profiles and mixing lifetimes from 7 to 12 min. The individual estimates of ice production from the salt budget reveal the intensity of short-term ice production, up to 110 cm d-1 during the windiest events, and a seasonal average of 29 cm d-1. We further found that frazil ice production rates covary with wind speed and with location along the upstream–downstream length of the polynya. These measurements reveal that it is possible to indirectly observe and estimate the process of unconsolidated ice production in polynyas by measuring upper-ocean water column profiles. These vigorous ice production rates suggest frazil ice may be an important component in total polynya ice production.

Pancake sea ice kinematics and dynamics using shipboard stereo video

Smith, M., and J. Thomson, "Pancake sea ice kinematics and dynamics using shipboard stereo video," Ann. Glaciol., 61, 1-11, doi:10.1017/aog.2019.35, 2020.

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1 Sep 2020

In the marginal ice zone, surface waves drive motion of sea ice floes. The motion of floes relative to each other can cause periodic collisions, and drives the formation of pancake sea ice. Additionally, the motion of floes relative to the water results in turbulence generation at the interface between the ice and ocean below. These are important processes for the formation and growth of pancakes, and likely contribute to wave energy loss. Models and laboratory studies have been used to describe these motions, but there have been no in situ observations of relative ice velocities in a natural wave field. Here, we use shipboard stereo video to measure wave motion and relative motion of pancake floes simultaneously. The relative velocities of pancake floes are typically small compared to wave orbital motion (i.e. floes mostly follow the wave orbits). We find that relative velocities are well-captured by existing phase-resolved models, and are only somewhat over-estimated by using bulk wave parameters. Under the conditions observed, estimates of wave energy loss from ice–ocean turbulence are much larger than from pancake collisions. Increased relative pancake floe velocities in steeper wave fields may then result in more wave attenuation by increasing ice–ocean shear.

Sea-ice production and air/ice/ocean/biogeochemistry interactions in the Ross Sea during the PIPERS 2017 autumn field campaign

Ackley, S.F., and 12 others including M. Smith, "Sea-ice production and air/ice/ocean/biogeochemistry interactions in the Ross Sea during the PIPERS 2017 autumn field campaign," Ann. Glaciol., 61, 181-195, doi:10.1017/aog.2020.31, 2020.

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1 Sep 2020

The Ross Sea is known for showing the greatest sea-ice increase, as observed globally, particularly from 1979 to 2015. However, corresponding changes in sea-ice thickness and production in the Ross Sea are not known, nor how these changes have impacted water masses, carbon fluxes, biogeochemical processes and availability of micronutrients. The PIPERS project sought to address these questions during an autumn ship campaign in 2017 and two spring airborne campaigns in 2016 and 2017. PIPERS used a multidisciplinary approach of manned and autonomous platforms to study the coupled air/ice/ocean/biogeochemical interactions during autumn and related those to spring conditions. Unexpectedly, the Ross Sea experienced record low sea ice in spring 2016 and autumn 2017. The delayed ice advance in 2017 contributed to (1) increased ice production and export in coastal polynyas, (2) thinner snow and ice cover in the central pack, (3) lower sea-ice Chl-a burdens and differences in sympagic communities, (4) sustained ocean heat flux delaying ice thickening and (5) a melting, anomalously southward ice edge persisting into winter. Despite these impacts, airborne observations in spring 2017 suggest that winter ice production over the continental shelf was likely not anomalous.

More Publications

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center