Jevgeni Rjazin, Victor Alari, Ove Pärn


Sea ice is a key climate factor and it restricts considerably the winter navigation in severe seasons on the Baltic Sea. So determining ice conditions severity and describing ice cover behavior at severe seasons are necessary. The ice seasons severity degree is studied at the years 1982 to 2016.  A new integrative characteristic named the weighted ice days number of the season is introduced to determine the ice season severity. The ice concentration data on the Baltic Sea published in the European Copernicus Programme are used to calculate the maximal ice extent and the weighted ice days number of the seasons. Both the ice season severity characteristics are used to classify the winters with respect of severity. The ice seasons 1981/82, 1984/85, 1985/86, 1986/87, 1995/96 and 2002/03 are classified as severe by the weighted ice days number. Only three seasons of this list are severe by both the criteria. We interpret this coincidence as the evidence of enough-during extensive ice cover in these three seasons. In the winter 2010/11 ice cover extended widely for some time, but did not last longer. At 2002/03  and a few other ice seasons the Baltic Sea was ice-covered in moderate extent, but the ice cover stayed long time. For 11 winters (32 % of the period) the relational weighted ice days number differs considerably (> 10 %) from the relational maximal ice extent. These winters yield one third of the studied ice seasons.  Statistically every 6th winter is severe by the weighted ice days number whereas only statistically every 8th winter is severe by the maximal ice extent on the Baltic. Hence there are more intrinsically severe seasons than the maximal ice extent gives. The maximal ice extent fails to account with the ice cover durability. The weighted ice days number enables to describe the ice cover behavior more representatively. Using the weighted ice days number adds the temporal dimension to the ice season severity study.


severity of ice seasons; severity characteristics; winter navigation; Baltic Sea; ice extent; ice days

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