Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type


Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Nancy E Kinner

Second Advisor

Thomas P Ballestero

Third Advisor

Diane L Foster


Decreasing sea ice extent in the Arctic provides more opportunities for human activities (e.g., shipping, development) and increases the likelihood of Arctic oil spills. Sea ice adds complexity into oil spill models because it has significant impacts on oil fate and behavior. Understanding these complexities will improve Arctic oil spill responses and mitigate impacts. As part of a recent project on Arctic response conducted by the Coastal Response Research Center (CRRC), sea ice and oil spill modelers concluded that further research is needed to model the behavior of oil under ice. The underside of sea ice is affected by waves, currents, winds, and snow cover over time and form shapes of various sizes. Experiments designed and conducted in the MacFarlane Flume at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) are used to better understand the movement of oil under sea ice. Blocks of ice are formed in customized welded boxes (36” length x 11.75” width x 10” depth). An ellipse half cylinder cavity is shaped into the underside of one of the blocks to simulate a typical under ice conformation. The shape and size were recommended by sea ice and oil spill modeling experts on the project’s advisory committee. The ice blocks are secured in the flume and a known volume of oil is injected into the cavity. Water relative velocity is controlled at fine increments (~0.1 m/s; ~0.2 kts) to analyze the movement of oil with respect to the fuel type and temperature. The oil used for preliminary experiments was Hoover Offshore Oil Pipeline System (HOOPS) oil, and oil transport from the cavity was observed at 0.16 +/- 0.03 m/s (0.31 +/- 0.06 kts). Data collection using the equipment and developed methods during this thesis research will enhance the CRRC’s ability to determine the coefficients needed for spill models to predict oil movement under sea ice.