Articles | Volume 11, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 11, 117–132, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-11-117-2017
The Cryosphere, 11, 117–132, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-11-117-2017

Research article 17 Jan 2017

Research article | 17 Jan 2017

Semi-brittle rheology and ice dynamics in DynEarthSol3D

Liz C. Logan1, Luc L. Lavier2,3, Eunseo Choi4, Eh Tan5, and Ginny A. Catania2,3 Liz C. Logan et al.
  • 1Institute for Computational and Engineering Science, University of Texas, Austin, 78712, USA
  • 2Department of Geological Science, University of Texas, Austin, 78712, USA
  • 3Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas, Austin, 78758, USA
  • 4Center for Earthquake Research and Information, University of Memphis, Memphis, 38152, USA
  • 5Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, No. 128, Section 2, Taiwan

Abstract. We present a semi-brittle rheology and explore its potential for simulating glacier and ice sheet deformation using a numerical model, DynEarthSol3D (DES), in simple, idealized experiments. DES is a finite-element solver for the dynamic and quasi-static simulation of continuous media. The experiments within demonstrate the potential for DES to simulate ice failure and deformation in dynamic regions of glaciers, especially at quickly changing boundaries like glacier termini in contact with the ocean. We explore the effect that different rheological assumptions have on the pattern of flow and failure. We find that the use of a semi-brittle constitutive law is a sufficient material condition to form the characteristic pattern of basal crevasse-aided pinch-and-swell geometry, which is observed globally in floating portions of ice and can often aid in eroding the ice sheet margins in direct contact with oceans.

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Short summary
Global sea level rise prediction is a pressing and unresolved problem, one whose solution depends upon glaciologists better predicting ice sheet shrinkage due to iceberg calving. We present a numerical model that is capable of simulating ice flow and breakage that leads to iceberg calving and find that a material property that captures both the fluid- and solid-like behavior of ice simultaneously is a necessary condition for studying areas of glaciers in contact with ocean water prone to calve.