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Understanding the mechanical behavior of sea ice is the basis of applications of ice mechanics. Laboratory-scale work on saline ice has often involved dry, isothermal ice specimens due to the relative ease of testing. This approach does not address the fact that the natural sea ice is practically always floating in seawater and typically has a significant temperature gradient. To address this important issue, we have developed equipment and methods for conducting compressive loading experiments on floating laboratory-prepared saline ice specimens. The present effort describes these developments and presents the results of stress-controlled sinusoidal cyclic compression experiments. We conducted the experiments on dry, isothermal (−10 ∘C) ice specimens and on floating-ice specimens with a naturally occurring temperature gradient. The experiments involved ice salinities of 5 and 7 ppt, cyclic stress levels ranging from 0.04–0.12 to 0.08–0.25 MPa and cyclic loading frequencies of 0.001 to 1 Hz. The constitutive response and energy dissipation under cyclic loading were successfully analyzed using an existing physically based constitutive model for sea ice. The results highlight the importance of testing warm and floating-ice specimens and demonstrate that the experimental method proposed in this study provides a convenient and practical approach to perform laboratory experiments on floating ice.
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