Model Studies of Surface Water Behavior on Ice Shelves
This award supports a project to develop a better understanding of the processes and conditions that trigger ice shelf instability and explosive disintegration. A significant product of the proposed research will be the establishment of parameterizations of micro- and meso-scale ice-shelf surface processes needed in large scale ice-sheet models designed to predict future sea level rise. The proposed research represents a 3-year effort to conduct numerical model studies of 6 aspects of surface-water evolution on Antarctic ice shelves. These 6 model-study areas include energy balance models of melting ice-shelf surfaces, with treatment of surface ponds and water-filled crevasses, distributed, Darcian water flow modeling to simulate initial firn melting, brine infiltration, pond drainage and crevasse filling, ice-shelf surface topography evolution modeling by phase change (surface melting and freezing), surface-runoff driven erosion and seepage flows, mass loading and flexure effects of ice-shelf and iceberg surfaces; feedbacks between surface-water loads and flexure stresses; possible seiche phenomena of the surface water, ice and underlying ocean that constitute a mechanism for, inducing surface crevassing., surface pond and crevasse convection, and basal crevasse thermohaline convection (as a phenomena related to area 5 above). The broader impacts of the proposed work bears on the socio-environmental concerns of climate change and sea-level rise, and will contribute to the important goal of advising public policy. The project will form the basis of a dissertation project of a graduate student whose training will contribute to the scientific workforce of the nation and the PI and graduate student will additionally participate in a summer science-enrichment program for high-school teachers organized by colleagues at the University of Chicago.
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