neXtWIM: Waves in a next-generation sea ice model

neXtWIM is focusing on developing an Arctic forecasting platfrom for sea ice and ocean waves, by combining the neXt generation Sea Ice Model neXtSIM and the Waves in Ice Model WIM both currently developed at NERSC.


The first primary objective of the neXtWIM project is to include wave-ice interactions in the next generation sea ice model neXtSIM. NeXtSIM is a new sea ice model currently being developed to make the drift and deformation of sea ice in response to wind, wave and current forcings significantly more realistic.

The second primary objective is to use this improved sea ice model to set up a high-resolution, Arctic-wide forecast system for waves and sea ice. As well as having greater accuracy in the central Arctic, this system will assist Arctic infrastructure (eg the Norwegian coastguard) and industry by providing information about wave height and floe sizes at the boundary between the sea ice and the ocean (the Marginal Ice Zone or MIZ). 

One secondary objective of neXtWIM is to evaluate the effect of waves on key macroscopic quantities like the sea ice concentration and the location of the ice edge. A second is to strengthen national and international collaboration.

Project Summary

With increasing temperatures worldwide, the Arctic is experiencing rapid and drastic changes in sea ice conditions, with innumerable consequences for the environment and human activities. In particular, the sea ice extent has experienced several record lows in the last decade, producing more open water in the Arctic ocean, and consequently more waves. At the same time many industries such as tourism, shipping and the oil and gas industry are seeking to take advantage of the reduced ice cover to expand their operations. While there are some economic benefits to this trend, there are also increased chances for accidents.

NeXtWIM aims to provide a forecast system based on an extremely realistic sea ice model, which will provide key information about ice edge location, wave heights, and floe sizes to operators in or near the Marginal Ice Zone

- the area at the boundary between the sea ice and the ocean where large waves and small, broken pieces of ice can be extremely hazardous.

To do this, NeXtWIM will incorporate wave-ice interactions into the next generation sea ice model, neXtSIM. This sea ice model is currently being developed at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), and has at its core the highly accurate elasto-brittle sea ice rheology. This platform will be the first of its kind worldwide, giving NERSC, Bergen and Norway generally a leading role in Arctic science.

Project Details
Funding Agency: 
Research Council of Norway
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
Pierre Rampal
Project Deputy Leader at NERSC: 
Timothy Williams
Coordinating Institute: 
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Project Status: