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A Closer Look at River and Sea Ice

Author(s): Brian Morse; James O’Regan; Edward Stander

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Abstract: This paper describes how the scientific and engineering communities might benefit by applying the concept of proximity analyses to river and sea ice studies. The proximity method requires the researcher to pose two questions: 1. How close are two (or more) phenomena? and 2. How are the phenomena close? For example, one might ask: how close are floating ice covers and fish, and how are the fish and ice covers close? Answers may include that both are very close in that the floating ice sits on (and occasionally in) the fish habitat with little or no intervening media, apart from an air lock or two. How the two are close is dynamic and relative. For example, the floating ice acts as a protective barrier between fish, their supporting ecosystem and freezing cold air. Think about it: ice is about the only rock that floats. Imagine the scenario if ice did not float and the cold could reach the very depths of water bodies. Could life ever have been established on Earth? For example on tidal flats, ‘floating’ice protects the very benthic communities required to support fish (and bird populations too). Rising tides release shore ice and, with its frozen cargo underneath, currents transport fish and their habitat to new locations. On the other hand, the floating proximity of ice can hamper fish populations by physically separating light and oxygen from the fish habitat over the winter season. In addition to acting as a barrier, floating ice can be a strong link between mammals (including man) and fish. In one instant, it may keep predators away; in another, it may bring predators closer by acting as a transportation corridor and hunting platform.


Year: 2016

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