Border ice processes on the Saint Lawrence River

Authors: Dong, Na
Advisor: Morse, Brian
Abstract: Border ice is one of many ice freeze-up processes, but it is discussed only to a limited extent in the literature. Border ice formation can be a precursor for ice jam formation that may restrict navigation and lead to flooding. This master’s thesis is mainly devoted to the research on the border ice on the Saint Lawrence River from Montréal to Québec City. This reach stays artificially open all winter because commercial ships are continuously preventing a full ice cover to form. The traffic also limits the extent of border ice. This study provides key information on ice formation and decay. Through analysis of Environment Canada’s historical data (ice charts from 2004 to 2009), the areal coverage of border ice is analyzed during freeze-up, winter and breakup periods. The historical information of ice coverage is collected in order to find out the factors which influence its formation and its spatial limits. Border ice growth and decay rates are also discussed. The thesis shows that border ice coverage has three stages including the rapid growth period at the beginning of the winter, the relatively stable period in the mid-winter and the breakup period as March progresses. During the mid-winter period, the border ice coverage sometimes drops sharply if the air temperature rises above 0 °C and/or if there is some rain. It was also found that the maximum border ice spatial limits are quite similar over the five winter seasons. Based on the analysis of the ice charts, a number of empirical laws regarding the formation and decay of border ice are proposed. Along the river flowing direction, the border ice is formed easily when there are obstacles particularly at the downstream end. The obstacles could include river bends, ice booms, shoals, artificial islands, bridge piers and so on. Thus, the obstacle influences the flow velocity, which is an important factor for ice formation and also provides an object against which the ice can become fast and initiate its formation. On average, border ice reaches 20% of its maximum coverage when the accumulated freezing degree days (AFDD) reaches 124 °C-D. This is followed by a rapid growth period that ends when the ice cover reaches about 80% of its maximum cover corresponding to AFDD equal to 247 °C-D. Border ice coverage usually reaches the maximum value when the average AFDD is 551 °C-D corresponding to the end of January. The winter period is characterised by a stable ice cover (> 90% of max) upstream of Trois-Rivières except in the event of a mid-winter thaw. Downstream of Trois-Rivières there is no stable period as the decay begins very soon after the ice reaches its maximum value. Breakup is a gradual process that normally begins on about Feb. 15th downstream of Trois- Rivières and about March 1st upstream. Most ice has normally gone by March 31st. Moreover, the river flow velocity, river depth and Froude number along the limits of border ice once it reaches its maximal areal coverage are evaluated and analyzed. The flow velocity is almost always less than 1.0 m/s; the maximum Froude number is normally 0.1 at Lake Saint-Pierre and 0.2 in the Montréal to Sorel reach; river depth at the ice edge can vary widely. Through numerical modelling, it was found that border ice increased the current velocity by 0.1 m/s in the Lake Saint-Pierre reach and raised water levels by 14 cm in the Montréal to Sorel reach.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2011
Open Access Date: 18 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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