This session is intended to attract a broad range of ice-sheet and glacier modelling contributions, welcoming applied and theoretical contributions. Theoretical topics that are encouraged are higher-order mechanical models, data inversion and assimilation, representation of other earth sub-systems in ice-sheet models, and the incorporation of basal processes and novel constitutive relationships in these models.

Applications of newer modelling themes to ice-sheets and glaciers past and present are particularly encouraged, in particular those considering ice streams, rapid change, grounding line motion and ice-sheet model intercomparisons.

Convener: Fabien Gillet-Chaulet | Co-conveners: Stephen Cornford, Gael Durand, Sainan Sun
| Attendance Wed, 06 May, 08:30–10:15 (CEST)

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Session materials Download all presentations (115MB)

Chat time: Wednesday, 6 May 2020, 08:30–10:15

D2535 |
Josefin Ahlkrona and Daniel Elfverson

The Finite Element Method (FEM) has become a popular method for numerical ice sheet modelling, partly due to its capability of representing complex geometries. However, there is a limit to just how complicated these geometries can be. In the presence of irregular geometries and moving boundaries like those appearing in glaciology, costly remeshing and low mesh quality may become issues. To overcome these problems, new unfitted sharp interface methods such as CutFEM are being developed by the FEM community. The CutFEM method allows for the boundary to cut through a mesh, without requiring the element nodes to be located on the boundary. In this way simple structured meshes can be used and remeshing is avoided while accuracy and stability is retained. We develop a CutFEM method for the full Stokes equations and apply it to a transient simulation of the Arolla Glacier with both no slip and partial slip conditions at the bed, using a level-set function to track the moving ice surface. We demonstrate accuracy of the method and discuss extensions to modelling ice shelves and moving grounding lines.

How to cite: Ahlkrona, J. and Elfverson, D.: FEM-modelling of ice dynamics without remeshing, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6403, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-6403, 2020

D2536 |
Paul D. Bons, Tamara de Riese, Enrique Gomez-Rivas, Albert Griera, Maria-Gema Llorens, and Ilka Weikusat

To describe the rheology of ice, it is customary to employ a flow law that relates the (differential) stress to the strain rate, typically as a function of temperature. The flow law thus predicts a single strain rate for a given stress and temperature. However, ice 1h is highly anisotropic when deforming by dislocation creep as is usually assumed to be the case in glaciers and polar ice sheets. Ice is effectively much softer in shearing parallel to the basal plane compared to deformation that requires activation of the non-basal crystallographic slip planes. Numerical simulation of ice deformation with the full-field crystal plasticity code (VPFFT, Lebensohn & Rollett, 2020) coupled with the numerical simulation platform Elle (Llorens et al., 2016) show that deformation in aggregates of ice grains is highly heterogeneous and typically shows strong strain heterogeneity and strain localisation in shear zones. This localisation remains when lattice rotation has resulted in a strong crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) with basal planes all oriented approximately parallel to the shear plane in simple-shear deformation.


Plots of the differential stress versus strain rate of all points of the full field model at one point in time show a wide scatter within the polycrystal. Although most basal planes have an orientation close to optimal for slip along this plane, few, if any material points actually show a stress-strain rate state close to the one predicted by the flow law for basal glide. On the contrary, the hard non-basal slip planes contribute significantly to the overall deformation. Shear zones show a stronger alignment of basal planes than the surrounding material. However, differential stress tends to be highest inside these shear zones, suggesting that shear zones are not simply the result of the presence of "soft" ice.


The results give insight in the highly complex behaviour of the strongly anisotropic material ice. This complexity is insufficiently described with a simple enhancement factor. We discuss how this complexity may help explain variations in grain size and apparent strength found in deep drill cores in the polar ice sheets.


Lebensohn, R.A., Rollett, A.D. 2020. Spectral methods for full-field micromechanical modelling of polycrystalline materials. Computational Materials Science 173, 109336.

Llorens, G.-M., Griera, A., Bons, P.D., Lebensohn, R.A., Evans, L.A., Jansen, D., Weikusat, I. 2016. Full-field predictions of ice dynamic recrystallisation under simple shear conditions. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 450, 233-242.

How to cite: Bons, P. D., de Riese, T., Gomez-Rivas, E., Griera, A., Llorens, M.-G., and Weikusat, I.: Stress and strain rate variations and strain localisation in ice: Another complexity to be considered apart from a simple enhancement factor, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-17864, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-17864, 2020

D2537 |
Emma Weijia Liu, Ludovic Räss, Jenny Suckale, Frédéric Herman, and Yury Podladchikov

The transition from slow flow to rapid sliding is a noticeable feature of both ice sheets and outlet glaciers. Most existing models attempting to understand the complex physical transition processes assume an idealized model geometry with a flat bed. These models have shown that the onset of sliding entails basal refreezing, which in turn suppresses sliding. The theoretical difficulties in understanding sliding commencement in these process-based models contrast with the apparent ubiquity of the transition in the field. Here, we hypothesize that the presence of basal topography could resolve the inconsistency between model predictions and field observations.

We test our hypothesis by investigating the flow-to-sliding transition in a process-based model of ice flowing over bedrock with significant roughness. We assume that the bed is rigid and that the boundary condition at the bed is no-slip. We incorporate variations in basal topography into an iterative nonlinear Stokes solver for thermo-mechanically coupled ice deformation using the Immersed Boundary Method. This approach permits us to address the basal ice to bedrock transition with high accuracy and to study the impact of the shape of this transition zone.

Our results suggest that shear heating in the vicinity of pronounced roughness extends well into the bulk of the ice, leading to a spatially variable viscosity. These spatial variations in topography can therefore significantly impact the overall viscosity distribution in the ice. High shear strain rates localize at the tops of the bedrock topography. Thermo-mechanical feedback lead to the spontaneous formation of internal shear band over time, by connecting the topographic heights. The internal shear zone accommodates the majority of shear deformation, inducing a sliding motion of the upper part of the domain. Our results provide a process-based explanation of recently measured ice deformation data at the West margin of Greenland Ice Sheet (Maier et al. 2019). It is also consistent with the proposed existence of a radio-echo free zone located in the lowest hundreds of meters above bedrock (Drews et al. 2009, Fujita et al. 1999).


Maier, Nathan, et al. "Sliding dominates slow-flowing margin regions, Greenland Ice Sheet." Science advances 5.7 (2019): eaaw5406.

Drews, Reinhard, et al. "Layer disturbances and the radio-echo free zone in ice sheets." The Cryosphere 3 (2009): 195-203.

Fujita, Shuji, et al. "Nature of radio echo layering in the Antarctic ice sheet detected by a two‐frequency experiment." Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 104.B6 (1999): 13013-13024.

How to cite: Liu, E. W., Räss, L., Suckale, J., Herman, F., and Podladchikov, Y.: Spontaneous Formation of Internal Shear Zone in Ice Flowing over a Topographically Variable Bed, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12602, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-12602, 2020

D2538 |
Christian Helanow, Neal Iverson, Jacob Woodard, and Lucas Zoet

Accuracy of prognostic ice-sheet models sensitively depend on the degree to which processes related to boundary conditions can be represented. In particular, the extent to which ice slides against and interacts with its substrate highly affects large-scale dynamics of ice sheets and glaciers. A process-based understanding of how basal drag and slip are related to conditions at the ice-bed interface, such as local bed topography, debris and subglacial hydrology, is therefore necessary to constrain ice-sheet response to a changing climate and associated sea-level rise.

We use a numerical model to simulate ice flow over a set of bed topographies of diverse morphological character; each model topography is the result of statistical analysis of a high-resolution digital elevation model of a glacier forefield, surveyed using ground-based LiDAR or drone-based photogrammetry. Allowing for ice-bed separation and water-filled cavities to form, we investigate the range of slip behavior by for each topography relating basal drag to slip velocity and water pressure and how this relation is affected by debris at the ice-bed interface.

Our results for realistic hard beds illustrate that there is an upper bound on the drag supported locally; this is in accordance with previous studies of hard-bedded slip over idealized two-dimensional topographies. The magnitude of this bound depends on the character of the bed, but is for the cases investigated only a fraction of the theoretical maximum and lower than values used in numerical ice-sheet models. However, the range of sliding velocities over which basal drag increases is for the considered topographies comparable to physically reasonable slip velocities, implying that substantial cavitation at the bed does not necessarily preclude a locally rate-strengthening slip relation. The presence of debris at the ice-bed interface influences the magnitude of the upper bound on the basal drag, broadening the range over which heuristic, rate-strengthening sliding relations commonly used in glacier-flow models can apply.

How to cite: Helanow, C., Iverson, N., Woodard, J., and Zoet, L.: Assessing sliding relations for glacier slip over realistic bed topography, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13248, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-13248, 2020

D2539 |
Juan Pedro Roldan Blasco, Olivier Gagliardini, Florent Gimbert, Adrien Gilbert, and Christian Vincent

Theoretical laws for glacier friction over hard bedrocks rely on several assumptions. One fundamental assumption is that perfect sliding (no resistance to slip) occurs at the local scale between ice and bedrock, in which case friction only occurs at a mesoscale from ice flowing past bed irregularities - here called viscous friction. This assumption is however challenged by the numerous observations that glaciers carry debris at their basal layers, which can exert frictional resistance locally through solid-type friction between debris and rock. This is to be translated at a mesoscale as an additive frictional term to the law.
We study how the action of solid friction modifies the overall glacier basal friction by applying a simple effective-pressure dependant Coulomb friction law into a steady-state finite element model of a glacier over sinusoidal bedrock. We find that the viscous drag reaches the same maximum value regardless of whether there is local solid friction or not. However, we find that in the no-cavitation regime (low water pressures) the deformation-slip ratio near the bed is enhanced when solid friction occurs, although total slip is lower. As a result, the sliding parameter - ratio between viscous drag and slip - is no longer constant, as opposed to expected in a pure-sliding scenario. For high water pressures, the influence of solid friction becomes smaller and the law tends to the pure-sliding case. We propose a simple update to pure-sliding derived laws (Weertman, 1957; Fowler, 1981; Schoof, 2005; Gagliardini et al., 2007) to take into account this effect.

How to cite: Roldan Blasco, J. P., Gagliardini, O., Gimbert, F., Gilbert, A., and Vincent, C.: Changes to glacier friction law due to solid friction, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9629, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-9629, 2020

D2540 |
Clemens Schannwell, Reinhard Drews, Todd A. Ehlers, Olaf Eisen, Christoph Mayer, Mika Malinen, Emma C. Smith, and Hannes Eisermann

Shortcomings in the description of ice dynamics have been recognized as a major limitation for projecting the evolution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. If current sea-level rise rates continue unabated, up to 630 million people will be at annual flood risk by 2100; making improved ice-sheet model projections a priority and of high socio-economic impact. Since the boundary condition at the underside of the ice-sheet is poorly known, improving constraints on the basal ice/bed properties is essential for accurate prediction of ice-sheet stability and grounding line positions. Furthermore, the history of grounding-line positions since the Last Glacial Maximum has proven challenging to understand due to uncertainties in bed conditions. Here we use a 3D full-Stokes ice-sheet model to investigate the effect of differing ocean bed properties on ice-sheet advance and retreat over a glacial cycle of 40,000 years. We do this for the Ekström Ice Shelf catchment, East Antarctica. We find that predicted ice volumes differ by >50 % under almost equal forcing when comparing (low-friction) sediment-covered with (high-friction) crystalline ocean beds. Grounding-line positions differ by >100 % (49 km), show significant hysteresis, and migrate non-steadily in both scenarios with long quiescent phases disrupted by leaps of rapid migration. Our new modelling framework extends the applicability of 3D full-Stokes ice-sheet models by an order of magnitude to previous studies. The simulations predict evolution of two entirely different catchment geometries (namely thick and slow vs. thin and fast), triggered exclusively by variable ocean-bed properties. This highlights that constraints not only for the bathymetry but also its geological properties are urgently needed for predicting ice-sheet evolution and sea level change.

How to cite: Schannwell, C., Drews, R., Ehlers, T. A., Eisen, O., Mayer, C., Malinen, M., Smith, E. C., and Eisermann, H.: Glacial cycle ice-sheet evolution controlled by ocean bed properties , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9631, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-9631, 2020

D2541 |
Violaine Coulon, Kevin Bulthuis, Sainan Sun, Konstanze Haubner, and Frank Pattyn

The Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) lies on a solid Earth that displays large spatial variations in rheological properties, with a thin lithosphere and low-viscosity upper mantle (weak Earth structure) beneath West Antarctica and an opposing structure beneath East Antarctica. This contrast is known to have a significant impact on ice-sheet grounding-line stability. Here, we embedded a modified glacial-isostatic ELRA model within an Antarctic ice sheet model that considers a weak Earth structure for West Antarctica supplemented with an approximation of gravitationally-consistent local sea-level changes. By taking advantage of the computational efficiency of this elementary GIA model, we assess in a probabilistic way the impact of uncertainties in the Antarctic viscoelastic properties on the response of the Antarctic ice sheet to future warming by using an ensemble of 2000 Monte Carlo simulations that span a range of plausible solid Earth structures for both West and East Antarctica.
We show that on multicentennial-to-millennial timescales, model projections that do not consider the dichotomy between East and West Antarctic solid Earth structures systematically overestimate the sea-level contribution from the Antarctic ice sheet because regional solid-Earth deformation plays a significant role in promoting the stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS). However, WAIS collapse cannot be prevented under high-emissions climate scenarios. At longer timescales and under unabated climate forcing, future mass loss may be underestimated because in East Antarctica, GIA feedbacks have the potential to re-enforce the influence of the climate forcing as compared with a spatially-uniform GIA model. In this context, the AIS response might be an even larger source of uncertainty in projecting sea-level rise than previously thought, with the highest uncertainty arising from the East Antarctic ice sheet where the Aurora Basin is very GIA-dependent.

How to cite: Coulon, V., Bulthuis, K., Sun, S., Haubner, K., and Pattyn, F.: Contrasting response of West and East Antarctic ice sheets to Glacial Isostatic Adjustment, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6974, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-6974, 2020

D2542 |
Michael Imhof

Ice flow models based on the Shallow Ice Approximation (SIA) are among the most broadly used type of ice flow model thanks to their simplicity and low computational costs. One key problem of SIA-based models are the mass conservation issues that emerge within steep terrain. In more detail, at some grid cells more ice can removed within one time step than there is present leading to negative ice thicknesses. This issue becomes increasingly problematic with topographical steepness and model resolution. As high resolutions become more accessible with faster computers, mass conservation errors might become increasingly important in the future.

Here we present a new scheme for SIA models that are integrated explicitly forward-in-time centred-in-space, one of the most common implementation. We show that mass conservation can be restored by capping surface differences with the upstream ice thickness in the computation of surface gradients, given a time step is used that maintains numerical stability. This new scheme is simple, strictly mass conserving, and can be implemented vectorially resulting in compact and efficient codes. We demonstrate the functionality of our new scheme and show some practical applications.


How to cite: Imhof, M.: A new strictly mass conserving surface gradient calculation scheme for SIA-based ice flow models, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7604, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-7604, 2020

D2543 |
Andre Löfgren and Josefin Ahlkrona

In order to understand the rate at which an ice sheet is losing mass one has to consider its dynamics. Ice is a very slow moving, highly viscous, non-newtonian fluid and as such is most accurately described by the full Stokes equation. Time dependence is taken into account by coupling the Stokes equation to the so called free surface equation, which describes how the free surface boundary of the ice sheet is advected due to the Stokes velocity field.

A problem with this system is that it is numerically quite unstable and has a very strict time step constraint, where very small time steps are needed in order to have a stable solver. This constitutes a severe limitation for making long term predictions as the expensive nonlinear Stokes equation has to be solved in each time step.

By adding an additional term to the weak form of the Stokes equation we achieve stability for time steps 10-20 times larger than without stabilization. This stabilization technique is straightforward to implement into existing code and does not result in significantly larger computation times or memory usage.

How to cite: Löfgren, A. and Ahlkrona, J.: Increasing stable time step sizes in ice sheet modelling, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9658, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-9658, 2020

D2544 |
G. Hilmar Gudmundsson

When modelling ice flow, one often encounters the situation where melt is applied over ice-free areas. For example, determining the terminus position of a glacier involves finding the locations where applied surface melt and ice flow produces areas of zero ice thickness. How to best deal numerically this situation without producing negative ice thickness is an open and unsolved problem. One approach is to impose positive ice-thickness constraints and reformulating the problem as a constrained optimisation problem using the active-set method. This approach is, for example, used in the ice flow model Úa.  I’ll provide an overview over the approach used in the model and explain some difficulties, and how these have been addressed, associated with the use of higher order elements where the sign of the Lagrange multipliers can not be used to identify the active set.

How to cite: Gudmundsson, G. H.: The zero-ice ice-flow problem, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10613, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-10613, 2020

D2545 |
Mattia Poinelli, Eric Larour, and Riccardo Riva

The break-up of large ice shelves and the associated loss of ice are thought to play a destabilizing role in the ice sheet dynamics. Although ice shelves are a substantial buttressing source in the stability of continental ice sheets, the propagation of large rifts eventually leads to the break-up of icebergs into the ocean. As consequence, this loss of ice would trigger further glacier acceleration and ice sheets retreat, destabilizing the ice cap. Retreat and collapse of ice sheets are also thought to be related to regional climate warming. Indeed, satellite observations suggest that a warming surrounding would induce the ice sheet to progressive thinning and weakening.

The prolongation of un-grounded ice into the ocean is often interrupted by the propagation of fractures that eventually separates large icebergs from the ice shelf. These fractures are called rifts and range from dimensions of 10 to 100 km. A recent example of such phenomena is the massive break-up of the Larsen C in July, 2017 which followed the disintegration of Larsen A in 1995 and the partial break-up of Larsen B in 2002. The tabular iceberg formed by Larsen C was limited by the propagation of a large rift that began in summer 2016, although the ice shelf had already been thinning since 1992.

Rift initiation and propagation are thought to be the result of glaciological and oceanographic sources that trigger ice to break. Nonetheless, exact mechanisms remain elusive. The on-going project focuses on ice-ocean interactions in ice shelves that accommodate rifts by using oceanographic models. The goal is to couple rift propagation and ocean circulation underneath ice cavities in order to infer how basal melting affects the development of rifts. The numerical framework is developed within the capabilities of the MITgcm. We aim to identify the sensitivity of propagation rate and opening rate of rifts to variations in the ocean circulation that have occurred during the separation of part of the ice shelf.

On a larger scale, we are interested in the role of rifting in the stability of Antarctic shelves. Therefore, we work toward a better understanding of which processes are involved in the triggering of rift propagation.

How to cite: Poinelli, M., Larour, E., and Riva, R.: The role of ocean circulation in the propagation of rifts on ice shelves., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10919, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-10919, 2020

D2546 |
Liyun Zhao, Yan Zhen, Rupert Gladstone, Thomas Zwinger, and John Moore

The Aurora basin includes several fast-flowing glaciers (e.g. Totten and Dalton) and has large subglacial areas below sea level, which makes its study an essential part of evaluating the stability of East Antarctic against ocean warming. We use the 3D full-Stokes ice flow model Elmer/Ice to investigate the dynamic processes taking place in this basin. The spatial pattern of basal friction is deduced by inverse method from observed surface velocity. Particular focus is in the thermal condition at the bedrock. We further project the evolution of this basin during the 21st century with parameterized sub-ice shelf melting based provided by high resolution ocean models.

How to cite: Zhao, L., Zhen, Y., Gladstone, R., Zwinger, T., and Moore, J.: Simulation of Aurora basin, East Antarctic, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11658, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-11658, 2020

D2547 |
Nicholas Rathmann, Aslak Grindsted, Sérgio H. Faria, David A. Lilien, Christine S. Hvidberg, and Dorthe Dahl-Jensen

As polycrystalline ice undergoes ductile deformation, the c-axis fabric develops and the effective, macroscopic physical properties of ice become anisotropic. Modeling the flow of anisotropic ice therefore necessitates modeling the evolution of c-axes, too. We propose a non-parametric spectral model to account for the co-evolution of c-axis orientation distributions and stored lattice strain-energy distributions, which in principle allows any distribution shape to be represented. The coupled evolution provides the means to (statistically) model nucleation and migration recrystallization in an energy consistent way as nonuniform decay processes that depend on the accumulated cold work experienced by a given parcel of ice. The free model parameters determine the relative importance of grain rotation versus dynamic recrystallization processes given the local ice temperature, stress- and strain-rate states. We argue that the free parameters may be constrained by consulting the ice-core literature and present tentative simulations of the GRIP ice-core fabric.

How to cite: Rathmann, N., Grindsted, A., Faria, S. H., Lilien, D. A., Hvidberg, C. S., and Dahl-Jensen, D.: Modeling fabric development using coupled non-parametric orientation and lattice strain-energy distribution functions, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11788, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-11788, 2020

D2548 |
Guðfinna Aðalgeirsdóttir

In winter 2014-2015 a long tunnel was dug into the ice cap Langjökull at about 1260 m a.s.l., close to the ELA. The tunnel was opened for tourists in spring 2015 (https://intotheglacier.is/) and has since then become a popular tourist attraction.  Before the tunnel was opened in winter 2015 and in the subsequent two years measurements of the tunnel deformation, temperature and density along the tunnel has been measured.  The tunnel is both closing because of ice deformation and it deforms with the glacier flow, which causes the entrance into the ice tunnel to become gradually steeper.  We use a full-Stokes ice flow model to compute the evolution of the tunnel floor and the closure of the tunnel. The deformation measurements are used to constrain the ice viscosity and the floor measurements to validate the modeled glacier flow. The model simulations are then used to predict the movement of the tunnel in the coming few years, which is useful for the planning of the tunnel entrance renovations.

How to cite: Aðalgeirsdóttir, G.: Modelling the deformation and movement of an ice tunnel in Langjökull ice cap, Iceland, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11964, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-11964, 2020

D2549 |
Ilaria Tabone, Alexander Robinson, Jorge Alvarez-Solas, Javier Blasco, Daniel Moreno, and Marisa Montoya

Simulations of large-scale ice sheet models are crucial to understand the long-term evolution of an ice sheet and its response to climate forcings. However, solving the ice-flow equations and processes proper of the ice sheet at large spatial scales requires reducing the model computational complexity to a certain degree. To do so, coarse-resolution models represent several physical processes and ice characteristics through model parameterisations. Ice-sheet boundary conditions (e.g. basal sliding, surface ablation, grounded and marine basal melting) as well as unconstrained ice-flow properties (e.g. ice-flow enhancement factor) are some examples. However, choosing the best parameter values to well represent such processes is a demanding exercise. Statistical methods, from simple to advanced techniques involving Bayesian approaches, have been taken into account to evaluate the model performance. Here we optimise the performance of a new state-of-the-art hybrid ice-sheet-shelf model by applying a skill-score method based on a multi-misfits approach. A large ensemble of paleo-to-present transient simulations of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is produced through the Latin Hypercube Sampling technique. Results are then evaluated against a variety of information, comprising the present-day state of the ice sheet (e.g. ice thickness, ice velocity, basal thermal state) as well as available paleo reconstructions (e.g. glacial maximum extent, past elevation at the ice core sites). Results are then assembled to generate a single skill-score value based on a gaussian approach. The procedure is applied to various model parameters to evaluate the best choice of values associated with their parameterisations. 

How to cite: Tabone, I., Robinson, A., Alvarez-Solas, J., Blasco, J., Moreno, D., and Montoya, M.: A multi-approach skill-score procedure to optimize continental-scale ice-sheet models, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18968, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-18968, 2020

D2550 |
Fuyuki Saito, Ayako Abe-Ouchi, and Takashi Obase

Ice divides are important locations for deep drilling on ice-sheets.  Precise computation around a divide requires spatially very high resolution due to the characteristics of ice-flow around the divide.In addition, ice flow pattern is significantly different between an ice divide and the other areas: the flow around the divide requires more stress terms to compute than the other area.  Moreover, age computation around the summit is typical application of ice sheet models.  Performances of several numerical schemes, such as a higher-order upwind scheme or a semi-Lagrangian scheme, have been compared, however there are still some schemes not yet implemented and examined for this issue.

This study presents a recent development of Ice sheet model for Integrated Earth system Studies (IcIES) in particular, for improvement of dating scheme and inclusion of higher-order mechanics.

How to cite: Saito, F., Abe-Ouchi, A., and Obase, T.: Development of a numerical ice-sheet model for simulation of summit migration and dating, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-2801, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-2801, 2020

D2551 |
Maria Zeitz, Jan Haacker, and Ricarda Winkelmann

The Greenland ice sheet loses substantial amounts of mass, due to accelerating outlet glaciers and longer melting periods. Different positive feedback mechanisms, as the melt-elevation feedback and the ice-albedo feedback, introduce a non-linear evolution and may further accelerate mass loss. Negative feedbacks, such as the feedback between receding ice load and subsequent bedrock uplift, might counteract the accelerating positive feedbacks on long timescales. Roughly, the bedrock uplift amounts to 1/3 of the change in the ice sheet thickness on a timescale of millennia.

To explore the interplay of those feedbacks, we use simulations of the Greenland Ice Sheet with the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM) including an Elastic Lithosphere Relaxing Asthenosphere (ELRA) model in an idealized warming scenario. In particular, we observe that depending on the temperature anomaly (and thus the retreat time) and the asthenosphere viscosity, three distinct responses of the ice sheet are possible:

  1. The full or partial retreat of the ice sheet.
  2. The full or partial recovery of the ice sheet after an initial retreat.
  3. Large-scale self-sustained oscillations of the volume of the ice sheet on multi-millennial timescales.

How to cite: Zeitz, M., Haacker, J., and Winkelmann, R.: Ice load-bedrock uplift feedback leads to self-sustained oscillations in the Greenland Ice Sheet on long time scales, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22129, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-22129, 2020

D2552 |
Daniel Richards, Sam Pegler, Sandra Piazolo, and Oliver Harlen

Understanding the anisotropic flow of ice is likely a key factor for the reliable prediction of the evolution of certain regions of the Earth’s ice sheets. Anisotropy of the crystal lattice alignment of ice grains is typically neglected in the large majority of ice-sheet models, however the viscosity of ice can vary by a factor of at least 9 in different directions, indicating the potential to provide a dominant control. Even though anisotropy can have a large regional influence, its effects are currently poorly understood. For example, it is an open question as to how different varieties of crystal fabrics are produced by different forms of deformation, and how these dynamics vary with temperature.

To address these questions, we use a continuum-mesoscopic approach, proposed by Faria (2006a) and Placidi (2010) to model the evolution of the ice crystallographic preferred orientations (CPOs). The model assumes strain induced crystal lattice rotation i.e. crystal plasticity with rigid body rotation where parameters representing the following processes are incorporated: the relative importance of basal slip, the magnitude of grain-boundary migration and the magnitude of rotation recrystallization. We solve the system using a new spectral method, which is computationally highly efficient, and able to fully resolve the multiple dimensions of the problem (time, space and the two dimensions of orientation angle). By considering the predictions of the model in the cases of deformation representing shear and compression, the model is determined to reproduce all the detail features observed in ice CPOs evolution such as secondary clusters or cone shapes. The results show excellent agreement with experiments of ice deformation in both shear and compression. The experimental comparison is used to determine the first constraints on three temperature-dependent dimensionless numbers defining the relative important of the recrystallization and slip processes. With these dependencies constrained using shear experiments, the application of the model results is able to reproduce the observations of crystal structure in compressive experiments with no further fitting parameters. The model is thus found to provide good agreement with laboratory experiments  across a range of temperatures, strain rates and flow fields.  Moreover, the predicted patterns correspond qualitatively to those observed in natural ice from cores, with our results providing the first theoretical demonstration of the characteristics of the fabric structure. 

How to cite: Richards, D., Pegler, S., Piazolo, S., and Harlen, O.: Evolution of crystallographic preferred orientations in flowing polycrystalline ice: A continuum modelling approach validated against laboratory experiments, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13927, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-13927, 2020

D2553 |
Rupert Gladstone, John Moore, Michael Wolovick, and Thomas Zwinger

Computer models for ice sheet dynamics are the primary tools for making future predictions of ice sheet behaviour, the marine ice sheet instability, and ice sheet contributions to sea level rise. However, the dominant mode of flow for ice streams is sliding at the bed, and the physical processes that control sliding are not well understood. Ice sheet models often use hard-bed (often Weertman-type) sliding rules for computational efficiency.  However, soft beds with deformable sediments, which are known from laboratory experiments and direct glacier observations to exhibit Coulomb plastic behaviour, are ubiquitous beneath fast flowing ice streams. Using hard-bed sliding rules leads to actively misleading rates of inland surface diffusion and grounding line migration as compared to plastic beds, leading to incorrect forecasts of future sea level rise. Here, we use a 3D Stokes-flow ice sheet model along with observations of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to infer, through inversions and steady temperature simulations, key basal properties, most important of which are sliding speed, basal resistance, friction heat and grounded ice basal melt rate.  In addition to simulations of the whole Antarctic Ice Sheet we implement fine resolution simulations of the Pine Island Glacier and its catchment.  Contrary to the predictions of most hard-bed sliding relations, we find no correlation between basal resistance and sliding speed for fast moving ice streams. These results emphasize the importance of Coulomb plastic sliding, and strongly suggest that ice sheet modelers should devote greater efforts to developing models that can incorporate Coulomb plastic sliding relations without generating numerical instabilities.  We use our model results, along with some assumptions, to infer properties of the sub-glacial hydrologic system.  Assumptions about connectivity of the sub-glacial hydrologic system to the ocean limit our capacity to assess sliding relations that incorporate a dependence on effective pressure, and likely cause underestimates of ice sheet mass loss in model-based predictions utilising such sliding relations.  Hydrology modelling is likely essential both to further assess sliding relations and to use sliding relations in future predictions.  We estimate that the dominant source of basal meltwater for Pine Island Glacier is due to friction heat caused by basal sliding, despite recent estimates of high heating due to volcanic activity.


How to cite: Gladstone, R., Moore, J., Wolovick, M., and Zwinger, T.: Sliding conditions beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7038, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-7038, 2020

D2554 |
Adrien Gilbert, Florent Gimbert, Kjetil Thøgersen, Thomas Schuler, and Andreas Kääb

Glacier basal sliding accommodates most of glacier motion and is the main process behind glacier dynamic variability, able to substantially modulate glacier response to climate change. In particular, it controls glacier instabilities, surges, ice stream development and flow speeds of most glaciers on Earth. Paradoxically, glacier sliding remains one of the least understood processes in glacier physics due to the difficulty of accessing and observing the sub-glacial environment. In numerical models, sliding of glaciers is traditionally determined by friction laws interlinking basal shear stress, sliding velocity and water pressure. However, assessing the effects of water pressure on sliding remains a challenge due to the sparsity of appropriate data to validate coupled ice-flow/subglacial-hydrology models. We unify here the description of subglacial cavities transient dynamic for basal friction and sub-glacial hydrology and show how it interacts as a self-regulating coupled system. Our results are in striking agreement with observation from a unique multi-decadal record of basal sliding and water discharge in Argentière Glacier (French Alps). We show that sliding speed of hard-bedded glaciers is set by the drainage efficiency necessary to accommodate the melt water supply rather than being driven by water pressure. We suggest that liquid water supply at the glacier base rather water pressure should be used to develop friction laws that include the effect subglacial hydrology. This will make glacier dynamical response to climate change more predictable.

How to cite: Gilbert, A., Gimbert, F., Thøgersen, K., Schuler, T., and Kääb, A.: Glacier sliding set by self-regulating feedback between friction and drainage efficiency, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-1762, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-1762, 2019

D2555 |
Julien Brondex and Olivier Gagliardini

Ice Memory is an international project aiming at creating a global ice archive sanctuary in Antarctica. The design of a perennial subsurface storage space for the cores is a cornerstone of this project. Here, we use an ice/firn flow model to investigate possible storage solutions that would meet the specific requirements of the project. To this end, we consider two extreme cases in terms of rigidity of the facility: an ice cave dug into the firn and a perfectly rigid container buried within it. We focus on the rate of sinking of the facility as well as on the rate of closure of the cave and the evolution of the normal stresses supported by the container. Our results show that the lifetime of a cave is highly affected by the initial density of snow in its surrounding. On the other hand, the presence of the rigid container within the domain perturbs the flow of snow, creating patches of high density in its surrounding and leading to significant normal stresses on its walls. In particular, strong stress concentrations are obtained at the container angles. These results prove that unreinforced shipping containers are unsuited for this task.  

How to cite: Brondex, J. and Gagliardini, O.: Comparing the long-term fate of a snow cave and a rigid container buried at Dome C, Antarctica, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21421, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-21421, 2020

D2556 |
Michael Wolovick, John Moore, Rajeev Jaiman, Jasmin Jelovica, and Bowie Keefer

Rapid sea level rise due to an ice sheet collapse has the potential to be extremely damaging to coastal communities and infrastructure, and conventional coastal protection techniques (dykes, levees, etc) can be quite expensive. In the past we have proposed that society might employ artificial sills and pinning points at critical marine ice streams in Antarctica to slow the rate of sea level rise at the source (Wolovick and Moore, 2018). However, thick earthen sills are likely to be extremely expensive and difficult to construct. If the goal of the intervention is only to block warm water from reaching the grounding line, then an alternate intervention consisting of thin flexible buoyant curtains anchored to the seabed might be employed instead. Flexible curtains are likely to be cheaper, more robust against iceberg collisions, and easier to remove in the event of unforeseen side effects. Here, we use a simple ice flow model to evaluate the effectiveness of such an intervention at three important Greenlandic outlet glaciers, and we make crude estimates of the forces on the curtain and of the likely cost of construction. We find that the single most important factor controlling the effectiveness of a thin water-blocking intervention (defined as either slowing glacier retreat or causing readvance) is the exposure of the glacier to deep warm water at the time of barrier construction. This means that, for Jakobshavn Isbrae, which has a deep (~1000 m) central trough extending well over 100 km inland, a water-blocking intervention is likely to be effective far into the future, and also that the preventable retreat (in comparison to a no-intervention scenario) is quite large. For Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq, however, the central trough rises rapidly just a few tens of kilometers inland of the present-day calving front, removing the vulnerability to deep warm water after a relatively small retreat. This means both that the intervention must be begun relatively soon if it is to have an effect at those glaciers, and that the preventable retreat is smaller. With respect to the forces acting on the curtain, we find that the static tensile load on the curtain rises quadratically with the height above the seabed, and linearly with respect to the density contrast between the inner waters and the outer waters. Since the natural sills at the fjord mouths are roughly three times deeper at Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq than they are at Jakobshavn, curtains at the former would need to be roughly an order of magnitude stronger than curtains at the latter. We estimate that this translates into roughly five times greater cost (per unit barrier length) at the two East Greenland glaciers than at Jakobshavn. Therefore, based on both cost and effectiveness, we find that this type of intervention is more favored for Jakobshavn than it is for Helheim and Kangerdlugssuuaq.

How to cite: Wolovick, M., Moore, J., Jaiman, R., Jelovica, J., and Keefer, B.: Targeted Glacial Geoengineering through Seabed Anchored Curtains, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8750, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-8750, 2020

D2557 |
Mathieu Morlighem and Doug Brinkerhoff

Helheim Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in Greenland and, despite its importance, remains poorly understood. While this glacier has been relatively stable in the 1980s and 1990s, its terminus retreated dramatically by 6 km between 2001 and 2005. By 2006, the glacier stopped thinning, slowed down, and re-advanced 4 km and has been stable since 2007. Helheim is today the third fastest glacier of Greenland, reaching speeds >7 km/a, and drains a surface area of 50,000 km2. It is not clear how this glacier will change over the coming century and if another episode of exceptional retreat will occur in the very near future. We construct here a large ensemble of simulations of Helheim glacier over the next century, using a numerical model that includes a dynamic ice front forced by oceanic and atmospheric scenarios. This large ensemble allows to quantify the uncertainty in future retreat and mass loss, and also to attribute the fraction of mass loss uncertainty due to poorly constrained model parameters using main-effect Sobol indices for each input variable. This work helps determine the processes that affect projections the most and provide error bars on model projections.

How to cite: Morlighem, M. and Brinkerhoff, D.: Identifying the the key factors of uncertainty in Helheim Glacier’s response to climate change, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12802, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-12802, 2020