Articles | Volume 17, issue 1
Research article
24 Jan 2023
Research article |  | 24 Jan 2023

Timescales of outlet-glacier flow with negligible basal friction: theory, observations and modeling

Johannes Feldmann and Anders Levermann

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Cited articles

Agosta, C., Amory, C., Kittel, C., Orsi, A., Favier, V., Gallée, H., van den Broeke, M. R., Lenaerts, J. T. M., van Wessem, J. M., van de Berg, W. J., and Fettweis, X.: Estimation of the Antarctic surface mass balance using the regional climate model MAR (1979–2015) and identification of dominant processes, The Cryosphere, 13, 281–296,, 2019. a, b
Asay-Davis, X. S., Cornford, S. L., Durand, G., Galton-Fenzi, B. K., Gladstone, R. M., Gudmundsson, G. H., Hattermann, T., Holland, D. M., Holland, D., Holland, P. R., Martin, D. F., Mathiot, P., Pattyn, F., and Seroussi, H.: Experimental design for three interrelated marine ice sheet and ocean model intercomparison projects: MISMIP v. 3 (MISMIP +), ISOMIP v. 2 (ISOMIP +) and MISOMIP v. 1 (MISOMIP1), Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 2471–2497,, 2016. a, b
Bamber, J. L., Oppenheimer, M., Kopp, R. E., Aspinall, W. P., and Cooke, R. M.: Ice Sheet Contributions to Future Sea-Level Rise from Structured Expert Judgment, P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 116, 11195–11200,, 2019. a
Beckmann, J., Perrette, M., Beyer, S., Calov, R., Willeit, M., and Ganopolski, A.: Modeling the response of Greenland outlet glaciers to global warming using a coupled flow line–plume model, The Cryosphere, 13, 2281–2301,, 2019. a, b, c, d
Buckingham, E.: On Physically Similar Systems; Illustrations of the Use of Dimensional Equations, Phys. Rev., 4, 345–376,, 1914. a, b
Short summary
Here we present a scaling relation that allows the comparison of the timescales of glaciers with geometric similarity. According to the relation, thicker and wider glaciers on a steeper bed slope have a much faster timescale than shallower, narrower glaciers on a flatter bed slope. The relation is supported by observations and simplified numerical simulations. We combine the scaling relation with a statistical analysis of the topography of 13 instability-prone Antarctic outlet glaciers.