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Laurentide ice sheet aspect ratio in models based on Glen's flow law

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The problem of recovering the small aspect ratio of the ICE-4G reconstruction of the Last Glacial Maximum Laurentide ice sheet has proven to be a challenge for state-of-the-art thermomechanically-coupled three-dimensional ice-sheet models coupled to reduced climate models. Flow enhancements to Glen's flow law, 20 to 30 times those required to adequately simulate the present-day Greenland ice sheet, have been found necessary in order to reproduce both the thickness and areal extent of the geophysical reconstruction. Within the confines of the Glen flow rheology, it is unclear what mechanism might explain the magnitude of this discrepancy in required flow enhancement for the Laurentide relative to the Greenland ice sheet. We present a comparative analysis of three alternative explanations of such a questionable flow-law enhancement: radical changes to mass balance; radical changes to ice-sheet history; and strongly enhanced basal flows. Based on this analysis, we argue that none of these alternatives provide a fully acceptable explanation for the small ICE-4G LGM aspect ratio of the Laurentide ice sheet, that has been inferred geophysically.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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