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A new algorithm to simulate the dynamics of a glacier: theory and applications

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We propose a novel Eulerian algorithm to compute the changes of a glacier geometry for given mass balances. The surface of a glacier is obtained by solving a transport equation for the volume of fluid (VOF). The surface mass balance is taken into account by adding an interfacial term in the transport equation. An unstructured mesh with standard stabilized finite elements is used to solve the non-linear Stokes problem. The VOF function is computed on a structured grid with a high resolution. The algorithm is stable for Courant numbers larger than unity and conserves mass to a high accuracy. To demonstrate the potential of the algorithm, we apply it to reconstructed Late-glacial states of a small valley glacier, Vadret Muragl, in the Swiss Alps.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2008

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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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