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Computing marine-ice thickness at an ice-shelf base

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The freezing of sea water to the base of an ice shelf can give rise to large patches of accumulated ice, a phenomenon known as marine ice. In this studya numerical method is presented for calculating the thickness of the marine-ice layer using an ice- shelf-ocean model. The present-day modeling paradigm of ice-shelf-ocean interaction usually involves the fixed specification of the ice-shelf geometry while the ocean circulation in the cavity beneath the ice shelf evolves freely. This approach relies on several assumptions, such as steady-state ice-shelf thickness and ice-shelf flow fields, in order to make reasonable quantitative estimates of the thermodynamic exchange processes occurring at the ice-shelf base. This paper discusses the impact of these and other assumptions on the estimation of the thickness of the marine-ice layer. Model simulation results are presented for an idealized ice- shelf-ocean configuration as a demonstration of the feasibility of the numerical method. A sensitivity analysis is given so as to quantify the relative uncertainty in the marine-ice thickness that arises from uncertainties in the model input parameters, these being principally the ice-shelf flow field, the basal accumulation rate and the ice-shelf thickness field.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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