Articles | Volume 15, issue 7
Research article 21 Jul 2021
Research article | 21 Jul 2021
Modelling steady states and the transient response of debris-covered glaciers
James C. Ferguson and Andreas Vieli
No articles found.
Jan Beutel, Andreas Biri, Ben Buchli, Alessandro Cicoira, Reynald Delaloye, Reto Da Forno, Isabelle Gaertner-Roer, Stephan Gruber, Tonio Gsell, Andreas Hasler, Roman Lim, Phillipe Limpach, Raphael Mayoraz, Matthias Meyer, Jeannette Noetzli, Marcia Phillips, Eric Pointner, Hugo Raetzo, Cristian Scapoza, Tazio Strozzi, Lothar Thiele, Andreas Vieli, Daniel Vonder Mühll, Samuel Weber, and Vanessa Wirz
Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss.,
Preprint under review for ESSDShort summary
Using standard GPS receivers it is possible to track terrain movements at the sub centimeter scale. This paper documents experiments using this technique monitoring different cryosphere-related mass movement in high-alpine terrain: rock glaciers, landslides as well as steep bedrock. The data serves basic research but also decision making and mitigation of natural hazard as well as adaptation to climate change. It is the largest data set of it’s kind comprising over 209’000 daily positions.
Adrien Wehrlé, Martin P. Lüthi, Andrea Walter, Guillaume Jouvet, and Andreas Vieli
The Cryosphere Discuss.,
Preprint under review for TCShort summary
We developed a novel automated method for the detection and the quantification of ocean waves generated by glacier calving. This method was applied to data recorded with a terrestrial radar interferometer at Eqip Sermia, Greenland. Results show a high calving activity at the glacier front sector ending in deep water linked with more frequent meltwater plumes. This suggests that rising subglacial meltwater plumes strongly affect glacier calving in deep water, but weakly in shallow water.
Andrea Walter, Martin P. Lüthi, and Andreas Vieli
The Cryosphere, 14, 1051–1066,Short summary
Glacier calving plays a key role in the dynamic mass loss of ocean-terminating glaciers in Greenland. Source areas and volumes of 900 individual calving events were analysed for size and timing related to environmental forcings. We found that calving volume distribution and style vary along the calving front and are controlled by the water depth and front geometry. We suggest that in deep water both oceanic melt and subaquatic calving contribute substantially to the frontal mass loss.
Guillaume Jouvet, Eef van Dongen, Martin P. Lüthi, and Andreas Vieli
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 9, 1–10,Short summary
We report the first-ever in situ measurements of ice flow motion using a remotely controlled drone. We used a quadcopter to land on a highly crevassed area of Eqip Sermia Glacier, Greenland. The drone measured 70 cm of ice displacement over more than 4 h thanks to an accurate onboard GPS. Our study demonstrates that drones have great potential for geoscientists, especially to deploy sensors in hostile environments such as glaciers.
Christoph Rohner, David Small, Jan Beutel, Daniel Henke, Martin P. Lüthi, and Andreas Vieli
The Cryosphere, 13, 2953–2975,Short summary
The recent increase in ice flow and calving rates of ocean–terminating glaciers contributes substantially to the mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Using in situ reference observations, we validate the satellite–based method of iterative offset tracking of Sentinel–1A data for deriving flow speeds. Our investigations highlight the importance of spatial resolution near the fast–flowing calving front, resulting in significantly higher ice velocities compared to large–scale operational products.
Samuel Weber, Jan Beutel, Reto Da Forno, Alain Geiger, Stephan Gruber, Tonio Gsell, Andreas Hasler, Matthias Keller, Roman Lim, Philippe Limpach, Matthias Meyer, Igor Talzi, Lothar Thiele, Christian Tschudin, Andreas Vieli, Daniel Vonder Mühll, and Mustafa Yücel
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 11, 1203–1237,Short summary
In this paper, we describe a unique 10-year or more data record obtained from in situ measurements in steep bedrock permafrost in an Alpine environment on the Matterhorn Hörnligrat, Zermatt, Switzerland, at 3500 m a.s.l. By documenting and sharing these data in this form, we contribute to facilitating future research based on them, e.g., in the area of analysis methodology, comparative studies, assessment of change in the environment, natural hazard warning and the development of process models.
Jérome Faillettaz, Martin Funk, Jan Beutel, and Andreas Vieli
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 1399–1413,Short summary
We developed a new strategy for real-time early warning of gravity-driven slope failures (such as landslides, rockfalls, glacier break-off, etc.). This method enables us to investigate natural slope stability based on continuous monitoring and interpretation of seismic waves generated by the potential instability. Thanks to a pilot experiment, we detected typical patterns of precursory events prior to slide events, demonstrating the potential of this method for real-word applications.
Nico Mölg, Tobias Bolch, Andrea Walter, and Andreas Vieli
The Cryosphere, 13, 1889–1909,Short summary
Debris can partly protect glaciers from melting. But many debris-covered glaciers change similar to debris-free glaciers. To better understand the debris influence we investigated 150 years of evolution of Zmutt Glacier in Switzerland. We found an increase in debris extent over time and a link to glacier flow velocity changes. We also found an influence of debris on the melt locally, but only a small volume change reduction over the whole glacier, also because of the influence of ice cliffs.
Alessandro Cicoira, Jan Beutel, Jérome Faillettaz, Isabelle Gärtner-Roer, and Andreas Vieli
The Cryosphere, 13, 927–942,Short summary
Rock glacier flow varies on multiple timescales. The variations have been linked to climatic forcing, but a quantitative understanding is still missing. We use a 1-D numerical modelling approach coupling heat conduction to a creep model in order to study the influence of temperature variations on rock glacier flow. Our results show that heat conduction alone cannot explain the observed variations. Other processes, likely linked to water, must dominate the short-term velocity signal.
Rémy Mercenier, Martin P. Lüthi, and Andreas Vieli
The Cryosphere, 12, 721–739,Short summary
This study investigates the effect of geometrical properties on the stress state and flow regime in the vicinity of the calving front of grounded tidewater glaciers. Our analysis shows that the stress state for simple geometries can be determined solely by the water depth relative to ice thickness. This scaled relationship allows for a simple parametrization to predict calving rates of grounded tidewater glaciers that is simple, physics-based and in good agreement with observations.
Florian Frank, Brian W. McArdell, Nicole Oggier, Patrick Baer, Marc Christen, and Andreas Vieli
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 801–815,Short summary
This study describes a sensitivity analysis of the RAMMS debris-flow entrainment model, which is intended to help solve problems related to predicting the runout of debris flows. The results indicate that the entrainment model predicts plausible erosion volumes in comparison with field data. These eroded volumes are sensitive to the initial landslide volume, suggesting that this tool may be useful for both reconstruction of historical events and modeling of debris flow scenarios.
Samuel Weber, Jan Beutel, Jérome Faillettaz, Andreas Hasler, Michael Krautblatter, and Andreas Vieli
The Cryosphere, 11, 567–583,Short summary
We present a 8-year continuous time series of measured fracture kinematics and thermal conditions on steep permafrost bedrock at Hörnligrat, Matterhorn. Based on this unique dataset and a conceptual model for strong fractured bedrock, we develop a novel quantitative approach that allows to separate reversible from irreversible fracture kinematics and assign the dominant forcing. A new index of irreversibility provides useful indication for the occurrence and timing of irreversible displacements.
Johann Müller, Andreas Vieli, and Isabelle Gärtner-Roer
The Cryosphere, 10, 2865–2886,Short summary
Rock glaciers are landforms indicative of permafrost creep and received considerable attention concerning their dynamical and thermal changes. We use a holistic approach to analyze and model the current and long-term dynamical development of two rock glaciers in the Swiss Alps. The modeling results show the impact of variations in temperature and sediment–ice supply on rock glacier evolution and describe proceeding signs of degradation due to climate warming.
Martin P. Lüthi and Andreas Vieli
The Cryosphere, 10, 995–1002,Short summary
Glaciers flowing into the ocean sometimes release huge pieces of ice and cause violent tsunami waves which, upon landfall, can cause severe destruction. During an exceptionally well-documented event at Eqip Sermia, west Greenland, the collapse of a 200 m high ice cliff caused a tsunami wave of 50 m height, traveling at a speed exceeding 100 km h−1. This tsunami wave was filmed from a tour boat, and was simultaneously observed with several instruments, as was the run-up of 15 m on the shore.
V. Wirz, S. Gruber, R. S. Purves, J. Beutel, I. Gärtner-Roer, S. Gubler, and A. Vieli
Earth Surf. Dynam., 4, 103–123,
F. Frank, B. W. McArdell, C. Huggel, and A. Vieli
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 2569–2583,Short summary
The sudden onset of large and erosive debris flows has been observed recently in different catchments in Switzerland, implicating the importance of erosion for debris flow modelling. Therefore, an erosion model was established based on field data (relationship between maximum shear stress and erosion depth and rate) of several debris flows measured at the Illgraben. Erosion model tests at the Spreitgraben showed considerable improvements in runout pattern as well as hydrograph propagation.
E. M. Enderlin, I. M. Howat, and A. Vieli
The Cryosphere, 7, 1579–1590,
E. M. Enderlin, I. M. Howat, and A. Vieli
The Cryosphere, 7, 1007–1015,
Related subject area
Discipline: Glaciers | Subject: Numerical ModellingTwentieth century global glacier mass change: an ensemble-based model reconstructionMapping the age of ice of Gauligletscher combining surface radionuclide contamination and ice flow modelingModelling the evolution of Djankuat Glacier, North Caucasus, from 1752 until 2100 CE21st century fate of the Mocho-Choshuenco ice cap in southern ChileBrief communication: Time step dependence (and fixes) in Stokes simulations of calving ice shelvesModelling regional glacier length changes over the last millennium using the Open Global Glacier ModelThe contrasting response of outlet glaciers to interior and ocean forcingDeep learning applied to glacier evolution modellingInitialization of a global glacier model based on present-day glacier geometry and past climate information: an ensemble approachContrasting thinning patterns between lake- and land-terminating glaciers in the Bhutanese HimalayaImpact of frontal ablation on the ice thickness estimation of marine-terminating glaciers in AlaskaModeling the response of Greenland outlet glaciers to global warming using a coupled flow line–plume modelBuoyant forces promote tidewater glacier iceberg calving through large basal stress concentrationsGlobal glacier volume projections under high-end climate change scenarios
Jan-Hendrik Malles and Ben Marzeion
The Cryosphere, 15, 3135–3157,Short summary
To better estimate the uncertainty in glacier mass change modeling during the 20th century we ran an established model with an ensemble of meteorological data sets. We find that the total ensemble uncertainty, especially in the early 20th century, when glaciological and meteorological observations at glacier locations were sparse, increases considerably compared to individual ensemble runs. This stems from regions with a lot of ice mass but few observations (e.g., Greenland periphery).
Guillaume Jouvet, Stefan Röllin, Hans Sahli, José Corcho, Lars Gnägi, Loris Compagno, Dominik Sidler, Margit Schwikowski, Andreas Bauder, and Martin Funk
The Cryosphere, 14, 4233–4251,Short summary
We show that plutonium is an effective tracer to identify ice originating from the early 1960s at the surface of a mountain glacier after a long time within the ice flow, giving unique information on the long-term former ice motion. Combined with ice flow modelling, the dating can be extended to the entire glacier, and we show that an airplane which crash-landed on the Gauligletscher in 1946 will likely soon be released from the ice close to the place where pieces have emerged in recent years.
Yoni Verhaegen, Philippe Huybrechts, Oleg Rybak, and Victor V. Popovnin
The Cryosphere, 14, 4039–4061,Short summary
We use a numerical flow model to simulate the behaviour of the Djankuat Glacier, a WGMS reference glacier situated in the North Caucasus (Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Russian Federation), in response to past, present and future climate conditions (1752–2100 CE). In particular, we adapt a more sophisticated and physically based debris model, which has not been previously applied in time-dependent numerical flow line models, to look at the impact of a debris cover on the glacier’s evolution.
Matthias Scheiter, Marius Schaefer, Eduardo Flández, Deniz Bozkurt, and Ralf Greve
The Cryosphere Discuss.,
Revised manuscript accepted for TCShort summary
We simulate the current state and future evolution of the Mocho-Choshuenco ice cap in southern Chile (40°S, 72°W) with the ice-sheet model SICOPOLIS. Under different global warming scenarios, we project ice mass losses between 25% and 94% until the end of the 21st century. We quantify the uncertainties based on an ensemble of climate models and on the temperature dependence of the equilibrium line altitude. Our results suggest a considerable deglaciation in southern Chile in the next 80 years.
Brandon Berg and Jeremy Bassis
The Cryosphere, 14, 3209–3213,Short summary
Computer models of ice sheets and glaciers are an important component of projecting sea level rise due to climate change. For models that seek to simulate the full balance of forces within the ice, if portions of the glacier are allowed to quickly break off in a process called iceberg calving, a numerical issue arises that can cause inaccurate results. We examine the issue and propose a solution so that future models can more accurately predict the future behavior of ice sheets and glaciers.
David Parkes and Hugues Goosse
The Cryosphere, 14, 3135–3153,Short summary
Direct records of glacier changes rarely go back more than the last 100 years and are few and far between. We used a sophisticated glacier model to simulate glacier length changes over the last 1000 years for those glaciers that we do have long-term records of, to determine whether the model can run in a stable, realistic way over a long timescale, reproducing recent observed trends. We find that post-industrial changes are larger than other changes in this time period driven by recent warming.
John Erich Christian, Alexander A. Robel, Cristian Proistosescu, Gerard Roe, Michelle Koutnik, and Knut Christianson
The Cryosphere, 14, 2515–2535,Short summary
We use simple, physics-based models to compare how marine-terminating glaciers respond to changes at their marine margin vs. inland surface melt. Initial glacier retreat is more rapid for ocean changes than for inland changes, but in both cases, glaciers will continue responding for millennia. We analyze several implications of these differing pathways of change. In particular, natural ocean variability must be better understood to correctly identify the anthropogenic role in glacier retreat.
Jordi Bolibar, Antoine Rabatel, Isabelle Gouttevin, Clovis Galiez, Thomas Condom, and Eric Sauquet
The Cryosphere, 14, 565–584,Short summary
We introduce a novel approach for simulating glacier mass balances using a deep artificial neural network (i.e. deep learning) from climate and topographical data. This has been added as a component of a new open-source parameterized glacier evolution model. Deep learning is found to outperform linear machine learning methods, mainly due to its nonlinearity. Potential applications range from regional mass balance reconstructions from observations to simulations for past and future climates.
Julia Eis, Fabien Maussion, and Ben Marzeion
The Cryosphere, 13, 3317–3335,Short summary
To provide estimates of past glacier mass changes, an adequate initial state is required. However, information about past glacier states at regional or global scales is largely incomplete. Our study presents a new way to initialize the Open Global Glacier Model from past climate information and present-day geometries. We show that even with perfectly known but incomplete boundary conditions, the problem of model initialization leads to nonunique solutions, and we propose an ensemble approach.
Shun Tsutaki, Koji Fujita, Takayuki Nuimura, Akiko Sakai, Shin Sugiyama, Jiro Komori, and Phuntsho Tshering
The Cryosphere, 13, 2733–2750,Short summary
We investigate thickness change of Bhutanese glaciers during 2004–2011 using repeat GPS surveys and satellite-based observations. The thinning rate of Lugge Glacier (LG) is > 3 times that of Thorthormi Glacier (TG). Numerical simulations of ice dynamics and surface mass balance (SMB) demonstrate that the rapid thinning of LG is driven by both negative SMB and dynamic thinning, while the thinning of TG is minimised by a longitudinally compressive flow regime.
Beatriz Recinos, Fabien Maussion, Timo Rothenpieler, and Ben Marzeion
The Cryosphere, 13, 2657–2672,Short summary
We have implemented a frontal ablation parameterization into the Open Global Glacier Model and have shown that inversion methods based on mass conservation systematically underestimate the mass turnover (and therefore the thickness) of tidewater glaciers when neglecting frontal ablation. This underestimation can rise up to 19 % on a regional scale. Not accounting for frontal ablation will have an impact on the estimate of the glaciers’ potential contribution to sea level rise.
Johanna Beckmann, Mahé Perrette, Sebastian Beyer, Reinhard Calov, Matteo Willeit, and Andrey Ganopolski
The Cryosphere, 13, 2281–2301,Short summary
Submarine melting (SM) has been discussed as potentially triggering the recently observed retreat at outlet glaciers in Greenland. How much it may contribute in terms of future sea level rise (SLR) has not been quantified yet. When accounting for SM in our experiments, SLR contribution of 12 outlet glaciers increases by over 3-fold until the year 2100 under RCP8.5. Scaling up from 12 to all of Greenland's outlet glaciers increases future SLR contribution of Greenland by 50 %.
Matt Trevers, Antony J. Payne, Stephen L. Cornford, and Twila Moon
The Cryosphere, 13, 1877–1887,Short summary
Iceberg calving is a major factor in the retreat of outlet glaciers of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Massive block overturning calving events occur at major outlet glaciers. A major calving event in 2009 was triggered by the release of a smaller block of ice from above the waterline. Using a numerical model, we investigate the feasibility of this mechanism to drive large calving events. We find that relatively small perturbations induce forces large enough to open cracks in ice at the glacier bed.
Sarah Shannon, Robin Smith, Andy Wiltshire, Tony Payne, Matthias Huss, Richard Betts, John Caesar, Aris Koutroulis, Darren Jones, and Stephan Harrison
The Cryosphere, 13, 325–350,Short summary
We present global glacier volume projections for the end of this century, under a range of high-end climate change scenarios, defined as exceeding 2 °C global average warming. The ice loss contribution to sea level rise for all glaciers excluding those on the peripheral of the Antarctic ice sheet is 215.2 ± 21.3 mm. Such large ice losses will have consequences for sea level rise and for water supply in glacier-fed river systems.
Benn, D. I., Bolch, T., Hands, K., Gulley, J., Luckman, A., Nicholson, L. I., Quincey, D., Thompson, S., Toumi, R., and Wiseman, S.: Response of debris-covered glaciers in the Mount Everest region to recent warming, and implications for outburst flood hazards, Earth-Sci. Rev., 114, 156–174, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.03.008, 2012. a, b, c, d, e
Brun, F., Buri, P., Miles, E. S., Wagnon, P., Steiner, J., Berthier, E., Ragettli, S., Kraaijenbrink, P., Immerzeel, W. W., and Pellicciotti, F.: Quantifying volume loss from ice cliffs on debris-covered glaciers using high-resolution terrestrial and aerial photogrammetry, J. Glaciol., 62, 684–695, https://doi.org/10.1017/jog.2016.54, 2016. a
Brun, F., Wagnon, P., Berthier, E., Shea, J. M., Immerzeel, W. W., Kraaijenbrink, P. D. A., Vincent, C., Reverchon, C., Shrestha, D., and Arnaud, Y.: Ice cliff contribution to the tongue-wide ablation of Changri Nup Glacier, Nepal, central Himalaya, The Cryosphere, 12, 3439–3457, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-3439-2018, 2018. a, b, c
Kraaijenbrink, P. D., Shea, J. M., Pellicciotti, F., Jong, S. M., and Immerzeel, W. W.: Object-based analysis of unmanned aerial vehicle imagery to map and characterise surface features on a debris-covered glacier, Remote Sens. Environ., 186, 581–595, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2016.09.013, 2016. a, b
Menounos, B., Clague, J. J., Clarke, G. K., Marcott, S. A., Osborn, G., Clark, P. U., Tennant, C., and Novak, A. M.: Did rock avalanche deposits modulate the late Holocene advance of Tiedemann Glacier, southern Coast Mountains, British Columbia, Canada?, Earth Planet. Sc. Lett., 384, 154–164, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2013.10.008, 2013. a, b
Naito, N., Nakawo, M., Kadota, T., and Raymond, C. F.: Numerical simulation of recent shrinkage of Khumbu Glacier, Nepal Himalayas, in: Debris-Covered Glaciers, IAHS Publ. no. 264, 245–254, 2000. a
Oerlemans, J.: Glaciers and climate change, A.A. Balkema Publishers, Rotterdam, 2001. a
Rowan, A. V., Egholm, D. L., Quincey, D. J., and Glasser, N. F.: Modelling the feedbacks between mass balance, ice flow and debris transport to predict the response to climate change of debris-covered glaciers in the Himalaya, Earth Planet. Sc. Lett., 430, 427–438, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2015.09.004, 2015. a
Debris-covered glaciers have a greater extent than their debris-free counterparts due to insulation from the debris cover. However, the transient response to climate change remains poorly understood. We use a numerical model that couples ice dynamics and debris transport and varies the climate signal. We find that debris cover delays the transient response, especially for the extent. However, adding cryokarst features near the terminus greatly enhances the response.
Debris-covered glaciers have a greater extent than their debris-free counterparts due to...