Laboratory Study of Ice Deformation under Tidal Loading Conditions with Application to Antarctic Glaciers
This award supports a project to conduct laboratory experiments with a new, custom-fabricated cryo-friction apparatus to explore ice deformation oscillatory stresses like those experienced by tidewater glaciers in nature. The experimental design will explore the dynamic frictional properties of periodically loaded ice sliding on rock. Although the frictional strength of ice has been studied in the past these studies have all focused on constant rates of loading and sliding. The results of this work will advance understanding of ice stream dynamics by improving constraints on key material and frictional properties and allowing physics-based predictions of the amplitude and phase of glacier strain due to tidally induced stress variations. The intellectual merit of this work is that it will result in a better understanding of dynamic rheological parameters and will provide better predictive tools for dynamic glacier flow. The proposed experiments will provide dynamic material properties of ice and rock deformation at realistic frequencies experienced by Antarctic glaciers. The PIs will measure the full spectrum of material response from elastic to anelastic to viscous. The study will provide better constraints to improve predictive capability for glacier and ice-stream response to external forcing. The broader impacts of the work include providing estimates of material properties that can be used to broaden our understanding of glacier flow and that will ultimately be used for models of sea level rise and ice sheet stability. The ability to predict sea level in the near future is contingent on understanding of the processes responsible for flow of Antarctic ice streams and glaciers. Modulation of glacier flow by ocean tides represents a natural experiment that can be used to improve knowledge of ice and bed properties, and of the way in which these properties depend on time-varying forcings. Presently, the influence of tidal forcing on glacier movement is poorly understood, and knowledge of ice properties under tidal loading conditions is limited. The study will generate results of interest beyond polar science by examining phenomena that are of interest to seismology, glaciology and general materials science. The project will provide valuable research and laboratory experience for two undergraduate interns and will provide experience for the PI (currently a postdoc) in leading a scientific project. The three PIs are early career scientists. This proposal does not require fieldwork in the Antarctic.
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