Sensitivity of the frozen/melted basal boundary to perturbations of basal traction and geothermal heat flux: Isunnguata Sermia, western Greenland

Authors: Brinkerhoff, Douglas J.; Meierbachtol, Toby W.; Johnson, Jesse V.; Harper, Joel T.

Source: Annals of Glaciology, Volume 52, Number 59, December 2011 , pp. 43-50(8)

Publisher: International Glaciological Society

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Abstract:

A full-stress, thermomechanically coupled, numerical model is used to explore the interaction between basal thermal conditions and motion of a terrestrially terminating section of the west Greenland ice sheet. The model domain is a two-dimensional flowline profile extending from the ice divide to the margin. We use data-assimilation techniques based on the adjoint model in order to optimize the basal traction field, minimizing the difference between modeled and observed surface velocities. We monitor the sensitivity of the frozen/melted boundary (FMB) to changes in prescribed geothermal heat flux and sliding speed by applying perturbations to each of these parameters. The FMB shows sensitivity to the prescribed geothermal heat flux below an upper threshold where a maximum portion of the bed is already melted. The position of the FMB is insensitive to perturbations applied to the basal traction field. This insensitivity is due to the short distances over which longitudinal stresses act in an ice sheet.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756411799096330

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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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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