WIFAR: Waves-in-Ice Forecasting for Arctic Operators

The conjunction of waves and sea ice represents a serious threats for the offshore activities in the Marginal Ice Zone. WIFAR is introducing the effect of waves into operational forecast models of the coupled ice-ocean system.


The primary objective of this project is to develop new knowledge, observations and models of sea ice and waves in the Arctic. Waves in sea ice represent severe risks for personnel, installations and the environment. The project also aims to use the acquired knowledge to better inform decision-makers about the impact of waves on operations in ice-covered areas, for risk assessment and preparedness.

The WIFAR project is a follow-up of the Marginal Ice Zone project funded by Total E&P (2007-2010). Click here to access the WIFAR page at PETROMAKS.

Project Summary

The project is implemented over four years through 6 workpackages:

WP1: Development and validation of a wave-in-ice model based on theory by V. Squire's group in New Zealand. The model will be implemented for use in compbination with an operational ice-ocean model developed at NERSC, first as a heuristic, then as coupled model.

WP2: Operational ice-ocean model development with a new MIZ ice rheology aiming to provide improved forecasts of ice edge, concentration, thickness and drift.

WP3: Planning and implementation of three field experiments in the Fram Strait and Barents Sea MIZ using ice-going vessel. Data on waves and sea ice parameters in the MIZ will be collected and analysed in order to establish new knowledge of waves in ice and provide validation data for the models in WP1 and WP2.

WP4: Development and testing of coupled waves-ice-ocean model, based on results from WP1, WP2 and WP3. This coupled model system is planned to be used by offshore operators working in the MIZ in order to predict hazardous conditions and avoid dangerous situations.

WP5: Synthesize of results from WP1-WP4, including assessment of the results by consulting offshore companies who will be the users of the modelling system in the future. The assessment will address how the modelling system can be used to estimate forcing on vessels and installations in the MIZ. Furthermore, a plan for implementation of an integrated observation and forecasting system for ice-wave-ocean conditions in the marginal ice zone will be prepared, based on the assessment of the project results.

The project gathers a consortium consisting of a Norwegian research institute (NERSC) whichis the project leader, a university institution from New Zealand (UofO), a research institute from New Zealand (NIWA), and an oil & gas company TOTAL E&P.
There are two postdoc positions in the project.

Project Details
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
Stein Sandven
Project Deputy Leader at NERSC: 
Timothy Williams
Coordinating Institute: 
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Project Status: