A confined–unconfined aquifer model for subglacial hydrology and its application to the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream


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sebastian.beyer [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

Subglacial hydrology plays an important role in ice sheet dynamics as it determines the sliding velocity. It also drives freshwater into the ocean, leading to undercutting of calving fronts by plumes. Modeling subglacial water has been a challenge for decades. Only recently have new approaches been developed such as representing subglacial channels and thin water sheets by separate layers of variable hydraulic conductivity. We extend this concept by modeling a confined–unconfined aquifer system (CUAS) in a single layer of an equivalent porous medium (EPM). The advantage of this formulation is that it prevents unphysical values of pressure at reasonable computational cost. We performed sensitivity tests to investigate the effect of different model parameters. The strongest influence of model parameters was detected in terms of governing the opening and closure of the system. Furthermore, we applied the model to the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream, where an efficient system independent of seasonal input was identified about 500km downstream from the ice divide. Using the effective pressure from the hydrology model, the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM) showed considerable improvements in modeled velocities in the coastal region.



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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Published
Eprint ID
48794
DOI 10.5194/tc-12-3931-2018

Cite as
Beyer, S. , Kleiner, T. , Aizinger, V. , Rückamp, M. and Humbert, A. (2018): A confined–unconfined aquifer model for subglacial hydrology and its application to the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream , The Cryosphere, 12 (12), pp. 3931-3947 . doi: 10.5194/tc-12-3931-2018


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