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Dynamics of tidewater glaciers: comparison of three models

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A minimal model of a tidewater glacier based solely on mass conservation is compared with two one-dimensional numerical flowline models, one with the calving rate proportional to water depth, and the other with the flotation criterion as a boundary condition at the glacier terminus. The models were run with two simplified bed geometries and two mass-balance formulations. The models simulate the full cycle of length variations and the equilibrium states for a tidewater glacier. This study shows that the branching of the equilibrium states depends significantly on the bed geometry. The similarity between the results of the three models indicates that if there is a submarine undulation at the terminus of a tidewater glacier, any model in which the frontal ice loss is related to the water depth yields qualitatively the same non-linear behaviour. For large glaciers extending into deep water, the flotation model causes unrealistic behaviour.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2006

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  • 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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