Projections of the growth and demise of ice sheets and glaciers require physical models of the processes governing flow and fracture of ice. The flow of glacier ice has been treated using increasingly sophisticated models. By contrast, fracture, the process ultimately responsible for half of the mass lost from ice sheets through iceberg calving, is often included using ad hoc parameterizations. In this study we seek to bridge this gap by introducing a model where ice obeys a power law rheology appropriate for intact ice below a yield strength. Above the yield strength, we introduce a separate rheology appropriate for the flow of heavily fractured ice, where ice deformation occurs more readily along faults and fractures. We show that, provided the motion of fractured ice is sufficiently rapid compared to that of intact ice, the behavior of glaciers depends solely on the rheology of intact ice and the yield strength of ice and is insensitive to the precise rheology of fractured ice. Moreover, assuming that glacier ice is unyielded allows us to bound the long‐term average rate of terminus advance, providing a first principles estimate of rates of retreat associated with the marine ice cliff instability. We illustrate model behavior using idealized geometries and climate forcing and show that the model not only exhibits realistic patterns of advance and retreat but also has the potential to exhibit hysteresis. This hysteresis could provide an explanation for the sudden onset of rapid retreat observed in marine‐terminating glaciers.
This content will become publicly available on May 30, 2024
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Annual Reviews
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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