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Consistent generation of ice-streams via thermo-viscous instabilities modulated by membrane stresses

Hindmarsh, Richard C.A.. 2009 Consistent generation of ice-streams via thermo-viscous instabilities modulated by membrane stresses. Geophysical Research Letters, 36 (6), L06502. 6, pp. 10.1029/2008GL036877

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Abstract/Summary

Accurate computation of ice-stream location and dynamics is a key aspiration for theoretical glaciology. Ice-sheet models with thermo-viscous coupling have been shown to exhibit stream-like instabilities using shallow-ice approximation mechanics, but the location and width of these streams depends on the numerical implementation and are not unique. We present results from thermo-viscously coupled ice-sheet models incorporating membrane stresses. Spontaneous generation of fast-flowing linear features still occurs under certain parameter regimes, with computed stream widths between 20 km to 100 km, comparable with observations. These features are maintained as the grid-size is decreased. The thermo-viscous feedback mechanism that generates ice-streams under the shallow ice approximation still operates, now selecting a unique stream size. Computations of thermo-viscous ice flows should include membrane stresses when the bed is approximately flat, e. g. parts of Antarctica and former ice-sheets of the Northern hemisphere. Previous calculations of spontaneous ice-stream generation using the shallow ice approximation should be reassessed. Citation: Hindmarsh, R. C. A. (2009), Consistent generation of ice-streams via thermo-viscous instabilities modulated by membrane stresses, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L06502, doi:10.1029/2008GL036877.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1029/2008GL036877
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Global Science in the Antarctic Context (2005-2009) > Glacial Retreat in Antarctica and Deglaciation of the Earth System
ISSN: 0094-8276
NORA Subject Terms: Glaciology
Date made live: 02 Nov 2010 14:00
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/11030

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