The effect of sedimentation in a subglacial lake on the dynamics of an artificial ice stream

Thomas.Kleiner [ at ]


As ice flows over a subglacial lake, the drop in bed resistance leads to an increase in ice velocity and a subsequent lowering of the ice surface in the vicinity of the upstream lake edge. Conversely, at the downstream end of the lake a small hump is observed as the ice velocity decreases near the point of contact with land. There are two contributions arising from the ice/lake interaction: (1) changes in the thermal regime that propagate downwards with the advection of ice and (2) the increase in flow speeds caused by basal sliding over the lake surface. Sediment transport from upstream areas into subglacial lakes changes their size, thus reducing the area of the ice/lake interface. Here, we aim to study the effect that this reduction in size has on the flow dynamics and the surface elevation of an artificial ice stream and the temporal evolution of this effect. To this end, we use a full-Stokes, polythermal ice flow model, implemented into the commercial finite element software COMSOL Multiphysics. An enthalpy gradient method is used in order to account for the evolution of temperature and water content within the ice. This conceptual model uses prescribed boundary velocity and temperature profiles and a Weertman-type sliding law with a fixed parameter combination. In order to separate the effect of the slow thermal contribution from the fast mechanical one, we will present sensitivity tests that additionally involve a thermally-constant flow.

Item Type
Conference (Poster)
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Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Event Details
AGU Fall Meeting, 09 Dec 2013 - 13 Dec 2013, San Francisco.
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Cite as
Gudlaugsson, E. , Humbert, A. , Kleiner, T. , Andreassen, K. and Winsborrow, M. (2013): The effect of sedimentation in a subglacial lake on the dynamics of an artificial ice stream , AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, 9 December 2013 - 13 December 2013 .


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