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Title: Viscous and elastic buoyancy stresses as drivers of ice-shelf calving
Abstract The Antarctic Ice Sheet loses mass via its ice shelves predominantly through two processes: basal melting and iceberg calving. Iceberg calving is episodic and infrequent, and not well parameterized in ice-sheet models. Here, we investigate the impact of hydrostatic forces on calving. We develop two-dimensional elastic and viscous numerical frameworks to model the ‘footloose’ calving mechanism. This mechanism is triggered by submerged ice protrusions at the ice front, which induce unbalanced buoyancy forces that can lead to fracturing. We compare the results to identify the different roles that viscous and elastic deformations play in setting the rate and magnitude of calving events. Our results show that, although the bending stresses in both frameworks share some characteristics, their differences have important implications for modeling the calving process. In particular, the elastic model predicts that maximum stresses arise farther from the ice front than in the viscous model, leading to larger calving events. We also find that the elastic model would likely lead to more frequent events than the viscous one. Our work provides a theoretical framework for the development of a better understanding of the physical processes that govern glacier and ice-shelf calving cycles.
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Journal Name:
Journal of Glaciology
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1 to 15
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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