Experimental observation of ice motion and wave propagation with 3D printed analogues_REP2023

Experimental observation of ice motion and wave propagation with 3D printed analogues_REP2023

Experimental observation of ice motion and wave propagation with 3D printed analogues. 

Lead Supervisor: Dr Alexandros Askounis 

Location: University of East Anglia, School of Engineering

Duration: 6 weeks

Suitable undergraduate degrees: Environmental sciences, Physics, Engineering, Maths 

Project background

Understanding the behaviour of ice in polar regions is critical for predicting the impacts of climate change on these vulnerable ecosystems. One important aspect of this research is understanding how sea ice responds to ocean wave forcing. Waves can break up ice, creating a larger open water fraction with lower albedo (absorbs more sunlight) and accelerates melting. Additionally, as sea ice thins, it becomes more susceptible to wave action, which can further degrade the ice cover. 

 The project builds on previous work in the field, including a review of wave-induced ice motion in the Arctic Ocean [1] and a study of the impacts of waves on sea ice using laboratory experiments and field observations [2]. By contributing to this ongoing research, the student will have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on our understanding of sea ice behavior and climate change. 


  • Study sea ice-wave interactions 
  • Create 3D printed ice analogues 
  • Mimic ice’s physical properties 
  • Study ice behaviour under different wave conditions 
  • Gain hands-on research experience 
  • Learn materials science and experimental design 


To gain a better understanding of the complex interactions between sea ice and waves, we are seeking an undergraduate student to participate in our summer research project. The project will involve creating 3D printed analogues of sea ice and studying their response to wave action in a controlled laboratory setting. The student will work alongside experienced researchers in our lab to assist in designing and constructing the analogues, running experiments, and analysing data. 

 The analogues will be created using a 3D printer, which allows for precise control over the shape and size of the ice structures. The analogues will be designed to mimic the physical properties of ice in the field, such as its mechanical strength and melting behaviour. We will use these analogues to study how sea ice responds to different types of waves, including wind-generated waves and swell waves. By controlling the wave conditions in our experiments, we can isolate the effects of individual factors and better understand how they influence ice behaviour. 

 [1] R. Timco and R. A. Scrivener, “Wave-induced ice motion in the Arctic Ocean: A review,” Cold Regions Science and Technology, vol. 130, pp. 68-82, 2016. 

[2] Lei, R., Chen, Y., Ma, X. et al. “The impacts of waves on sea ice during the growth season,” Sci. Rep. 9, 11347 (2019).  

The project complements the other REP project entitled “Breakup of thin interfacial membranes with application to ice breaking” that focuses on the break-up of ice sheets from waves. The students in these two projects will work in tandem together with the supervisory team that consists of Dr Davide Proment & Dr Alberto Alberello, who will be mainly responsible for the mathematical and physical modelling, and Dr Alexandros Askounis & Dr Stefano Landini, who will be mainly responsible for the experimental design and data collection. 

This is a two tiered application process. Initial applicant selection will be made by project supervisors and a further interview (online) will be conducted by UEA members of ARIES on the afternoon of Tuesday 13th June.

Apply now

Click here for eligibility details and how to apply