The Percolation Phase Transition in Sea Ice

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Science  18 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5397, pp. 2238-2241
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5397.2238

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Sea ice exhibits a marked transition in its fluid transport properties at a critical brine volume fractionp c of about 5 percent, or temperatureT c of about –5°C for salinity of 5 parts per thousand. For temperatures warmer than T c, brine carrying heat and nutrients can move through the ice, whereas for colder temperatures the ice is impermeable. This transition plays a key role in the geophysics, biology, and remote sensing of sea ice. Percolation theory can be used to understand this critical behavior of transport in sea ice. The similarity of sea ice microstructure to compressed powders is used to theoretically predictp c of about 5 percent.

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