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Melt-under-cutting and buoyancy-driven calving from tidewater glaciers: new insights from discrete element and continuum model simulations

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Author(s)

Douglas I. Benn, Jan Åström, Thomas Zwinger, Joe Todd, Faezeh M. Nick, Susan Cook, Nicholas R. J. Hulton, Adrian Luckman

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Abstract

The simple calving laws currently used in ice sheet models do not adequately reflect the complexity and diversity of calving processes. To be effective, calving laws must be grounded in a sound understanding of how calving actually works. Here, we develop a new strategy for formulating calving laws, using a) the Helsinki Discrete Element Model (HiDEM) to explicitly model fracture and calving processes, and b) the continuum model Elmer/Ice to identify critical stress states associated with HiDEM calving events. A range of observed calving processes emerges spontaneously from HiDEM in response to variations in ice-front buoyancy and the size of subaqueous undercuts. Calving driven by buoyancy and melt undercutting is under-predicted by existing calving laws, but we show that the location and magnitude of HiDEM calving events can be predicted in Elmer/Ice from characteristic stress patterns. Our results open the way to developing calving laws that properly reflect the diversity of calving processes, and provide a framework for a unified theory of the calving process continuum.
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Original languageEnglish
Article numberJOG-17-0005
Pages (from-to)691-702
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Volume63
Issue number240
Early online date24 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

    Research areas

  • Calving, Glacier modelling, Iceberg calving

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