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Sensitivity studies on model modifications to assess the dynamics of a temperate ice cap, such as that on King George Island, Antarctica

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Numerical model studies describing the dynamics of ice sheets are usually aimed at cold-ice regions of mainland Antarctica. Contrary to these ice bodies with temperatures well below the pressure-melting point at the ice surface, the ice caps on sub-Antarctic islands, such as King George Island, can be considered as polythermal or even temperate. This implies that they may contain non-negligible amounts of water percolating through the ice matrix. We present three different modifications to a three-dimensional, thermomechanically coupled, higher-order model previously applied to cold-ice regions. We discuss the effect of these modifications on the ice dynamics obtained for diagnostic model runs. The modifications comprise changes to the enhancement factor in Glen's flow law, the choice of negligible or non-negligible water content and the choice of a threshold altitude below which the ice surface is set to pressure-melting point conditions. All modifications lead to non-linear changes in the resulting horizontal flow velocities. The changes in velocity amplitudes obtained with these modifications compared to simulations without any modification range between 64% and ∼400%. This implies that they should be considered in time-dependent simulations of temperate-ice dynamics.

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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