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Plane ice-sheet flow with evolving and recrystallizing fabric

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A plane, gravity-driven, steady flow of a polar ice sheet over a horizontal bedrock, with no-slip basal conditions, is considered. The ice is modelled as a linearly viscous, incompressible and anisotropic fluid, with evolving orthotropic fabric depending on local strain rates and deformations. For prescribed free-surface elevation and non-uniform temperature field, the ice velocities required to maintain the assumed geometry are calculated by using the finite-element method. The focus is on the mechanism of dynamic (migration) recrystallization occurring near the base of an ice sheet and leading to significant weakening, and ultimately to the complete loss, of the anisotropic fabric developed in the upper part of the ice cap. The weakening of the fabric with increasing strain rate and temperature is modelled by means of a scaling function depending continuously on a single effective strain-rate invariant. The results of numerical calculations demonstrate the effect of the recrystallization process on the overall flow rate of the ice sheet, and normalized velocity and strain-rate depth profiles are compared for flows with and without recrystallization involved to illustrate the effect of this mechanism on the large-scale behaviour of polar ice sheets.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-06-01

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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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