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Effects of undercutting and sliding on calving: a global approach applied to Kronebreen, Svalbard

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Author(s)

D. Vallot, J. Åström, T. Zwinger, R. Pettersson, A. Everett, Douglas I. Benn, A. Luckman, W. J. J. van Pelt, F. Nick, J. Kohler

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Abstract

In this paper, we study the effects of basal friction, sub-aqueous undercutting and glacier geometry on the calving process by combining six different models in an offline-coupled workflow: a continuum–mechanical ice flow model (Elmer/Ice), a climatic mass balance model, a simple subglacial hydrology model, a plume model, an undercutting model and a discrete particle model to investigate fracture dynamics (Helsinki Discrete Element Model, HiDEM). We demonstrate the feasibility of reproducing the observed calving retreat at the front of Kronebreen, a tidewater glacier in Svalbard, during a melt season by using the output from the first five models as input to HiDEM. Basal sliding and glacier motion are addressed using Elmer/Ice, while calving is modelled by HiDEM. A hydrology model calculates subglacial drainage paths and indicates two main outlets with different discharges. Depending on the discharge, the plume model computes frontal melt rates, which are iteratively projected to the actual front of the glacier at subglacial discharge locations. This produces undercutting of different sizes, as melt is concentrated close to the surface for high discharge and is more diffuse for low discharge. By testing different configurations, we show that undercutting plays a key role in glacier retreat and is necessary to reproduce observed retreat in the vicinity of the discharge locations during the melting season. Calving rates are also influenced by basal friction, through its effects on near-terminus strain rates and ice velocity.
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-625
Number of pages17
JournalThe Cryosphere
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2018

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