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Normal modes of a coupled ice-shelf/sub-ice-shelf cavity system

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Ice shelves and ice tongues are dynamically coupled to their cavities. Here we compute normal modes (eigenfrequencies and eigenfunctions) of this coupled system using a thin-plate approximation for the ice shelf and potential water flow in the ice-shelf cavity. Our results show that normal modes depend not only on the ice-shelf parameters (length, thickness, Young's modulus, etc.) but also on the cavity depth. The dominant eigenmodes are higher for ice shelves floating over deeper cavities; they are also higher for shorter ice shelves and ice tongues (< 50 km long). The high-eigenfrequency eigenmodes are primarily controlled by the ice flexure and have similar periods to sea swell. These results suggest that both long ocean waves with periods of 100–400 s and shorter sea swell with periods of 10–20 s can have strong impacts on relatively short ice shelves and ice tongues by exciting oscillations with their eigenfrequencies, which can lead to iceberg calving and, in some circumstances, ice-shelf disintegration.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2013

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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