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Improvements to shear-deformational models of glacier dynamics through a longitudinal stress factor

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In a two-dimensional (plane strain) glacier domain, gravity-driven ice flow is balanced by basal drag and the resistance associated with longitudinal stress gradients. The plane strain Stokes model accommodates both these resistances, whereas several simpler models only account for basal drag. Solving the Stokes equations is numerically challenging and computationally expensive, but simpler models may lead to unrealistic dynamical behaviour. Here, we propose a factor which can be introduced in shear-deformational flow models to yield results comparable to those from the plane strain Stokes model. As this factor adapts simpler models to capture the effects of missing dynamics, i.e. longitudinal stress gradients, we refer to it as the longitudinal stress (L-)factor. We assess the usefulness of this factor for idealized domains with complex basal topography and evolving geometry. We apply the model to Haig Glacier, Canadian Rockies, in order to present an illustration of how simulations of glacier response to climate forcing can be improved through the introduction of the L-factor in a shear-deformational flow model.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2011

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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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