An Investigation into the Seismic Signatures Generated by Iceberg Calving and Rifting
This award supports a project to strengthen collaborations between the various research groups working on iceberg calving. Relatively little is known about the calving process, especially the physics that governs the initiation and propagation of fractures within the ice. This knowledge gap exists in part because of the diverse range in spatial and temporal scales associated with calving (ranging from less than one meter to over a hundred kilometers in length scale). It is becoming increasingly clear that to predict the future behavior of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and its contribution to sea level rise, it is necessary to improve our understanding of iceberg calving processes. Further challenges stem from difficulties in monitoring and quantifying short-time and spatial-scale processes associated with ice fracture, including increased fracturing events in ice shelves or outlet glaciers that may be a precursor to disintegration, retreat or increased calving rates. Coupled, these fundamental problems currently prohibit the inclusion of iceberg calving into numerical ice sheet models and hinder our ability to accurately forecast changes in sea level in response to climate change. Seismic data from four markedly different environmental regimes forms the basis of the proposed research, and researchers most familiar with the datasets will perform all analyses. Extracting the similarities and differences across the full breadth of calving processes embodies the core of the proposed work, combining and improving methods previously developed by each group. Techniques derived from solid Earth seismology, including waveform cross-correlation and clustering will be applied to each data set allowing quantitative process comparisons on a significantly higher level than previously possible. This project will derive catalogues of glaciologically produced seismic events; the events will then be located and categorized based on their location, waveform and waveform spectra both within individual environments and between regions. The intellectual merit of this work is that it will lead to a better understanding of iceberg calving and the teleconnections between seismic events and other geophysical processes around the globe. The broader impacts of this work are that it relates directly to socio-environmental impacts of global change and sea level rise. Strong collaborations will form as a result of this research, including bolstered collaborations between the glacier and ice sheet communities, as well as the glaciology and seismology communities. Outreach and public dissemination of findings will be driven by SIO's Visualization Center, and Birch Aquarium, hosting presentations devoted to the role of the cryosphere in global change. Time-lapse movies of recent changes at Columbia Glacier will be used to engage potential young scientists. A program of presentations outside the university setting to at-risk and gifted youth will be continued. This study will also involve undergraduates in analyses and interpretation and presentation of the seismic data assembled. The work will also support two junior scientists who will be supported by this project.
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