Articles | Volume 8, issue 6
Research article
17 Nov 2014
Research article |  | 17 Nov 2014

Hydrostatic grounding line parameterization in ice sheet models

H. Seroussi, M. Morlighem, E. Larour, E. Rignot, and A. Khazendar

Abstract. Modeling of grounding line migration is essential to accurately simulate the behavior of marine ice sheets and investigate their stability. Here, we assess the sensitivity of numerical models to the parameterization of the grounding line position. We run the MISMIP3D benchmark experiments using the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM) and a two-dimensional shelfy-stream approximation (SSA) model with different mesh resolutions and different sub-element parameterizations of grounding line position. Results show that different grounding line parameterizations lead to different steady state grounding line positions as well as different retreat/advance rates. Our simulations explain why some vertically depth-averaged model simulations deviate significantly from the vast majority of simulations based on SSA in the MISMIP3D benchmark. The results reveal that differences between simulations performed with and without sub-element parameterization are as large as those performed with different approximations of the stress balance equations in this configuration. They also demonstrate that the reversibility test is passed at relatively coarse resolution while much finer resolutions are needed to accurately capture the steady-state grounding line position. We conclude that fixed grid SSA models that do not employ such a parameterization should be avoided, as they do not provide accurate estimates of grounding line dynamics, even at high spatial resolution. For models that include sub-element grounding line parameterization, in the MISMIP3D configuration, a mesh resolution finer than 2 km should be employed.