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  1. Abstract Frontal ablation, the combination of submarine melting and iceberg calving, changes the geometry of a glacier's terminus, influencing glacier dynamics, the fate of upwelling plumes and the distribution of submarine meltwater input into the ocean. Directly observing frontal ablation and terminus morphology below the waterline is difficult, however, limiting our understanding of these coupled ice–ocean processes. To investigate the evolution of a tidewater glacier's submarine terminus, we combine 3-D multibeam point clouds of the subsurface ice face at LeConte Glacier, Alaska, with concurrent observations of environmental conditions during three field campaigns between 2016 and 2018. We observe terminus morphology that was predominately overcut (52% in August 2016, 63% in May 2017 and 74% in September 2018), accompanied by high multibeam sonar-derived melt rates (4.84 m d −1 in 2016, 1.13 m d −1 in 2017 and 1.85 m d −1 in 2018). We find that periods of high subglacial discharge lead to localized undercut discharge outlets, but adjacent to these outlets the terminus maintains significantly overcut geometry, with an ice ramp that protrudes 75 m into the fjord in 2017 and 125 m in 2018. Our data challenge the assumption that tidewater glacier termini are largely undercut during periodsmore »of high submarine melting.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  2. Abstract. Numerical simulations of ice sheets rely on the momentum balance to determine how ice velocities change as the geometry of the system evolves. Ice is generally assumed to follow a Stokes flow with a nonlinear viscosity. Several approximations have been proposed in order to lower the computational cost of a full-Stokes stress balance. A popular option is the Blatter–Pattyn or higher-order model (HO), which consists of a three-dimensional set of equations that solves the horizontal velocities only. However, it still remains computationally expensive for long transient simulations. Here we present a depth-integrated formulation of the HO model, which can be solved on a two-dimensional mesh in the horizontal plane. We employ a specific polynomial function to describe the vertical variation in the velocity, which allows us to integrate the vertical dimension using a semi-analytic integration. We assess the performance of this MOno-Layer Higher-Order (MOLHO) model to compute ice velocities and simulate grounding line dynamics on standard benchmarks (ISMIP-HOM and MISMIP3D). We compare MOLHO results to the ones obtained with the original three-dimensional HO model. We also compare the time performance of both models in time-dependent runs. Our results show that the ice velocities and grounding line positions obtained with MOLHO are inmore »very good agreement with the ones from HO. In terms of computing time, MOLHO requires less than 10 % of the computational time of a typical HO model, for the same simulations. These results suggest that the MOno-Layer Higher-Order formulation provides improved computational time performance and a comparable accuracy compared to the HO formulation, which opens the door to higher-order paleo simulations.« less
  3. Abstract. Numerical simulations of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) over geologictimescales can greatly improve our knowledge of the critical factors drivingGrIS demise during climatically warm periods, which has clear relevance forbetter predicting GrIS behavior over the upcoming centuries. To assess thefidelity of these modeling efforts, however, observational constraints ofpast ice sheet change are needed. Across southwestern Greenland, geologicrecords detail Holocene ice retreat across both terrestrial-based and marine-terminating environments, providing an ideal opportunity to rigorouslybenchmark model simulations against geologic reconstructions of ice sheetchange. Here, we present regional ice sheet modeling results using theIce-sheet and Sea-level System Model (ISSM) of Holocene ice sheet historyacross an extensive fjord region in southwestern Greenland covering thelandscape around the Kangiata Nunaata Sermia (KNS) glacier and extendingoutward along the 200 km Nuup Kangerula (Godthåbsfjord). Oursimulations, forced by reconstructions of Holocene climate and recentlyimplemented calving laws, assess the sensitivity of ice retreat across theKNS region to atmospheric and oceanic forcing. Our simulations reveal thatthe geologically reconstructed ice retreat across the terrestrial landscapein the study area was likely driven by fluctuations in surface mass balancein response to Early Holocene warming – and was likely not influencedsignificantly by the response of adjacent outlet glaciers to calving andocean-induced melting. The impact ofmore »ice calving within fjords, however,plays a significant role by enhancing ice discharge at the terminus, leadingto interior thinning up to the ice divide that is consistent withreconstructed magnitudes of Early Holocene ice thinning. Our results,benchmarked against geologic constraints of past ice-margin change, suggestthat while calving did not strongly influence Holocene ice-margin migrationacross terrestrial portions of the KNS forefield, it strongly impactedregional mass loss. While these results imply that the implementation andresolution of ice calving in paleo-ice-flow models is important towardsmaking more robust estimations of past ice mass change, they also illustratethe importance these processes have on contemporary and future long-term icemass change across similar fjord-dominated regions of the GrIS.« less
  4. Abstract. Time-dependent simulations of ice sheets require two equations to be solved:the mass transport equation, derived from the conservation of mass, and thestress balance equation, derived from the conservation of momentum. The masstransport equation controls the advection of ice from the interior of the icesheet towards its periphery, thereby changing its geometry. Because it isbased on an advection equation, a stabilization scheme needs to beemployed when solved using the finite-element method. Several stabilizationschemes exist in the finite-element method framework, but their respectiveaccuracy and robustness have not yet been systematically assessed forglaciological applications. Here, we compare classical schemes used in thecontext of the finite-element method: (i) artificial diffusion, (ii)streamline upwinding, (iii) streamline upwind Petrov–Galerkin, (iv)discontinuous Galerkin, and (v) flux-corrected transport. We also look at thestress balance equation, which is responsible for computing the ice velocitythat “advects” the ice downstream. To improve the velocity computationaccuracy, the ice-sheet modeling community employs several sub-elementparameterizations of physical processes at the grounding line, the point wherethe grounded ice starts to float onto the ocean. Here, we introduce a newsub-element parameterization for the driving stress, the force that drives theice-sheet flow. We analyze the response of each stabilization scheme byrunning transient simulations forced by ice-shelf basal melt.more »The simulationsare based on an idealized ice-sheet geometry for which there is no influenceof bedrock topography. We also perform transient simulations of the AmundsenSea Embayment, West Antarctica, where real bedrock and surface elevations areemployed. In both idealized and real ice-sheet experiments, stabilizationschemes based on artificial diffusion lead systematically to a bias towardsmore mass loss in comparison to the other schemes and therefore should beavoided or employed with a sufficiently high mesh resolution in the vicinityof the grounding line. We also run diagnostic simulations to assess theaccuracy of the driving stress parameterization, which, in combination with anadequate parameterization for basal stress, provides improved numericalconvergence in ice speed computations and more accurate results.« less
  5. Abstract

    The mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet is nearly equally partitioned between a decrease in surface mass balance from enhanced surface melt and an increase in ice dynamics from the acceleration and retreat of its marine-terminating glaciers. Much uncertainty remains in the future mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet due to the challenges of capturing the ice dynamic response to climate change in numerical models. Here, we estimate the sea level contribution of the Greenland Ice Sheet over the 21st century using an ice-sheet wide, high-resolution, ice-ocean numerical model that includes surface mass balance forcing, thermal forcing from the ocean, and iceberg calving dynamics. The model is calibrated with ice front observations from the past eleven years to capture the recent evolution of marine-terminating glaciers. Under a business as usual scenario, we find that northwest and central west Greenland glaciers will contribute more mass loss than other regions due to ice front retreat and ice flow acceleration. By the end of century, ice discharge from marine-terminating glaciers will contribute 50 ± 20% of the total mass loss, or twice as much as previously estimated although the contribution from the surface mass balance increases towards the end of the century.

  6. Abstract. Among the most important challenges faced by ice flow models is how to represent basal and rheological conditions, which are challenging to obtain from direct observations. A common practice is to use numerical inversions to calculate estimates for the unknown properties, but there are many possible methods and not one standardised approach. As such, every ice flow model has a unique initialisation procedure. Here we compare the outputs of inversions from three different ice flow models, each employing a variant of adjoint-based optimisation to calculate basal sliding coefficients and flow rate factors using the same observed surface velocities and ice thickness distribution. The region we focus on is the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica, the subject of much investigation due to rapid changes in the area over recent decades. We find that our inversions produce similar distributions of basal sliding across all models, despite using different techniques, implying that the methods used are highly robust and represent the physical equations without much influence by individual model behaviours. Transferring the products of inversions between models results in time-dependent simulations displaying variability on the order of or lower than existing model intercomparisons. Focusing on contributions to sea level, the highestmore »variability we find in simulations run in the same model with different inversion products is 32 %, over a 40-year period, a difference of 3.67 mm. There is potential for this to be improved with further standardisation of modelling processes, and the lowest variability within a single model is 13 %, or 1.82 mm over 40 years. While the successful transfer of inversion outputs from one model to another requires some extra effort and technical knowledge of the particular models involved, it is certainly possible and could indeed be useful for future intercomparison projects.« less
  7. Abstract The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is a region that is key to a range of climatic and oceanographic processes with worldwide effects, and is characterised by high biological productivity and biodiversity. Since 2013, the International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) has represented the most comprehensive compilation of bathymetry for the Southern Ocean south of 60°S. Recently, the IBCSO Project has combined its efforts with the Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project supporting the goal of mapping the world’s oceans by 2030. New datasets initiated a second version of IBCSO (IBCSO v2). This version extends to 50°S (covering approximately 2.4 times the area of seafloor of the previous version) including the gateways of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the Antarctic circumpolar frontal systems. Due to increased (multibeam) data coverage, IBCSO v2 significantly improves the overall representation of the Southern Ocean seafloor and resolves many submarine landforms in more detail. This makes IBCSO v2 the most authoritative seafloor map of the area south of 50°S.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  8. Abstract. One of the key components of this research has been the mapping of Antarctic bed topography and ice thickness parameters that are crucial for modelling ice flow and hence for predicting future ice loss andthe ensuing sea level rise. Supported by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), the Bedmap3 Action Group aims not only to produce newgridded maps of ice thickness and bed topography for the internationalscientific community, but also to standardize and make available all thegeophysical survey data points used in producing the Bedmap griddedproducts. Here, we document the survey data used in the latest iteration,Bedmap3, incorporating and adding to all of the datasets previously used forBedmap1 and Bedmap2, including ice bed, surface and thickness point data from all Antarctic geophysical campaigns since the 1950s. More specifically,we describe the processes used to standardize and make these and futuresurveys and gridded datasets accessible under the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) data principles. With the goals of making the gridding process reproducible and allowing scientists to re-use the data freely for their own analysis, we introduce the new SCAR Bedmap Data Portal(, last access: 1 March 2023) created to provideunprecedented open access to these important datasets through a web-map interface.more »We believe that this data release will be a valuable asset to Antarctic research and will greatly extend the life cycle of the data heldwithin it. Data are available from the UK Polar Data Centre: (last access: 5 May 2023​​​​​​​). See the Data availability section for the complete list of datasets.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  9. Abstract. The northern sector of the Greenland Ice Sheet is considered to beparticularly susceptible to ice mass loss arising from increased glacierdischarge in the coming decades. However, the past extent and dynamics ofoutlet glaciers in this region, and hence their vulnerability to climatechange, are poorly documented. In the summer of 2019, the Swedish icebreakerOden entered the previously unchartered waters of Sherard Osborn Fjord, whereRyder Glacier drains approximately 2 % of Greenland's ice sheet into theLincoln Sea. Here we reconstruct the Holocene dynamics of Ryder Glacier andits ice tongue by combining radiocarbon dating with sedimentary faciesanalyses along a 45 km transect of marine sediment cores collected betweenthe modern ice tongue margin and the mouth of the fjord. The resultsillustrate that Ryder Glacier retreated from a grounded position at thefjord mouth during the Early Holocene (> 10.7±0.4 ka cal BP) and receded more than 120 km to the end of Sherard Osborn Fjord by theMiddle Holocene (6.3±0.3 ka cal BP), likely becoming completelyland-based. A re-advance of Ryder Glacier occurred in the Late Holocene,becoming marine-based around 3.9±0.4 ka cal BP. An ice tongue,similar in extent to its current position was established in the LateHolocene (between 3.6±0.4 and 2.9±0.4 ka cal BP) andextended to its maximum historical position near the fjord mouth around 0.9±0.3 ka cal BP. Laminated, clast-poor sediments were deposited duringthemore »entire retreat and regrowth phases, suggesting the persistence of an icetongue that only collapsed when the glacier retreated behind a prominenttopographic high at the landward end of the fjord. Sherard Osborn Fjordnarrows inland, is constrained by steep-sided cliffs, contains a number ofbathymetric pinning points that also shield the modern ice tongue andgrounding zone from warm Atlantic waters, and has a shallowing inlandsub-ice topography. These features are conducive to glacier stability andcan explain the persistence of Ryder's ice tongue while the glacier remainedmarine-based. However, the physiography of the fjord did not halt thedramatic retreat of Ryder Glacier under the relatively mild changes inclimate forcing during the Holocene. Presently, Ryder Glacier is groundedmore than 40 km seaward of its inferred position during the Middle Holocene,highlighting the potential for substantial retreat in response to ongoingclimate change.« less
  10. Abstract. Changes in ocean temperature and salinity are expected to be an important determinant of the Greenland ice sheet's future sea level contribution. Yet, simulating the impact of these changes in continental-scale ice sheet models remains challenging due to the small scale of key physics, such as fjord circulation and plume dynamics, and poor understanding of critical processes, such as calving and submarine melting. Here we present the ocean forcing strategy for Greenland ice sheet models taking part in the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for CMIP6 (ISMIP6), the primary community effort to provide 21st century sea level projections for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report. Beginning from global atmosphere–ocean general circulation models, we describe two complementary approaches to provide ocean boundary conditions for Greenland ice sheet models, termed the “retreat” and “submarine melt” implementations. The retreat implementation parameterises glacier retreat as a function of projected subglacial discharge and ocean thermal forcing, is designed to be implementable by all ice sheet models and results in retreat of around 1 and 15 km by 2100 in RCP2.6 and 8.5 scenarios, respectively. The submarine melt implementation provides estimated submarine melting only, leaving the ice sheet model to solve for themore »resulting calving and glacier retreat and suggests submarine melt rates will change little under RCP2.6 but will approximately triple by 2100 under RCP8.5. Both implementations have necessarily made use of simplifying assumptions and poorly constrained parameterisations and, as such, further research on submarine melting, calving and fjord–shelf exchange should remain a priority. Nevertheless, the presented framework will allow an ensemble of Greenland ice sheet models to be systematically and consistently forced by the ocean for the first time and should result in a significant improvement in projections of the Greenland ice sheet's contribution to future sea level change.« less