Submitted as: development and technical paper 15 Mar 2017

Submitted as: development and technical paper | 15 Mar 2017

Review status: this preprint was under review for the journal GMD but the revision was not accepted.

Numerical simulations of glacier evolution performed using flow-line models of varying complexity

Antonija Rimac1,2, Sharon van Geffen1,2, and Johannes Oerlemans1 Antonija Rimac et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • 2Netherlands Earth System Science Centre, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Abstract. The performance of two numerical models of different complexity, i.e., a Shallow Ice Approximation (SIA) and a Full-Stokes Model (FSM), is studied by analyzing glacier evolutions at various bed geometries and by applying different climatic forcings. Glacier bed geometry changes from a constant slope and a uniform width to a superimposed Gaussian bump or ice-fall on a constant slope and an exponentially varying width. Constant slopes of 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 are chosen to study the evolution of a large, medium and small glacier, respectively. A specific mass balance serves as a climatic forcing. The steady state is reached 60, 30 and 10 years, respectively faster for large, medium and small glacier, when simulations are performed using SIA instead of FSM. Glaciers time response is studied by using step and periodic changes, and by imposing natural variability in the equilibrium-line altitude. Glacier length response time is up to 14 years longer when FSM is used compared to SIA. When periodic and natural variability are enforced, glaciers simulated using SIA lag in phase compared to the forcing up to 81.2° for glacier length and up to 56.5° for volume. Contrary to that, glaciers simulated with FSM show greater lag in phase compared to the forcing for glacier length and smaller lag for volume. The models differ in their treatment of glacier flow mechanics and differences in physical variables become apparent with increasing glacier bed slope and bed profile complexity.

Antonija Rimac et al.

Antonija Rimac et al.

Model code and software

Capabilities and performance of Elmer/Ice, a new-generation ice sheet model O. Gagliardini, T. Zwinger, F. Gillet-Chaulet, G. Durand, L. Favier, B. de Fleurian, R. Greve, M. Malinen, C. Martín, P. Råback, J. Ruokolainen, M. Sacchettini, M. Schäfer, H. Seddik, and J. Thies

Antonija Rimac et al.


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Short summary
The main aim of this paper is to use explicit glacier flow-line models of a different complexity to analyse the glacier length and volume evolution, and to disentangle climatic signals from geometric effects. We compare length and volume evolution of a synthetically designed glaciers simulated using Full-Stokes model based on Elmer/Ice code with the results obtained using SIA model.