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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 04 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 04 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Quantifying the effect of ocean bed properties on ice sheet geometry over 40,000 years with a full-Stokes model

Clemens Schannwell1, Reinhard Drews1, Todd A. Ehlers1, Olaf Eisen2,3, Christoph Mayer4, Mika Malinen5, Emma C. Smith2, and Hannes Eisermann2 Clemens Schannwell et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
  • 2Glaciology, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 3Department of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 4Bavarian Academy for Sciences and Humanities, Munich, Germany
  • 5CSC-IT Center for Science Ltd., Espoo, Finland

Abstract. Simulations of ice sheet evolution over glacial cycles requires integration of observational constraints using ensemble studies with fast ice sheet models. These include physical parameterisations with uncertainties, for example, relating to grounding line migration. Ice dynamically more complete models are slow and have thus far only be applied for < 1,000 years, leaving many model parameters unconstrained. Here we apply a 3D thermomechanically coupled full-Stokes ice sheet model to the Ekström Ice Shelf embayment, East Antarctica, over a full glacial cycle (40,000 years). We test the model response to differing ocean bed properties that provide an envelope of potential ocean substrates seawards of today’s grounding line. The end member scenarios include a hard, high friction ocean bed and a soft, low friction ocean bed. We find that predicted ice volumes differ by > 50 % under almost equal forcing. Grounding line positions differ by up to 49 km, show significant hysteresis, and migrate non-steadily in both scenarios with long quiescent phases disrupted by leaps of rapid migration. The simulations quantify evolution of two different ice sheet geometries (namely thick and slow vs. thin and fast), triggered by the variable grounding line migration over the differing ocean beds. Our study extends the timescales of 3D full-Stokes by an order of magnitude to previous studies with the help of parallelisation. The extended time frame for full-Stokes models is a first step towards better understanding other processes such as erosion and sediment redistribution in the ice shelf cavity impacting the entire catchment geometry.

Clemens Schannwell et al.

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Clemens Schannwell et al.

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Latest update: 04 Jul 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
To reduce uncertainties associated with sea-level rise projections, an accurate representation of ice flow is paramount. Most ice-sheet models rely on simplified versions of the underlying ice-flow equations. Due to the high computational costs, ice-sheet models based on the complete ice-flow equations have been restricted to < 1,000 years. Here, we present a new model setup that extends the applicability of such models by an order of magnitude, permitting simulations of 40,000 years.
To reduce uncertainties associated with sea-level rise projections, an accurate representation...