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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: model description paper 08 Sep 2020

Submitted as: model description paper | 08 Sep 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

The Utrecht Finite Volume Ice-Sheet Model: UFEMISM (version 1.0)

Constantijn J. Berends1, Heiko Gölzer1,2,a, and Roderik S. W. van de Wal1,3 Constantijn J. Berends et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CC, the Netherlands
  • 2Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
  • 3Faculty of Geosciences, Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • anow at: NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Abstract. Improving our confidence in future projections of sea-level rise requires models that can simulate ice-sheet evolution both in the future and in the geological past. A physically accurate treatment of large changes in ice-sheet geometry requires a proper treatment of processes near the margin, like grounding line dynamics, which in turn requires a high spatial resolution in that specific region. This leads to a demand for computationally efficient models, where such a high resolution can be feasibly applied in simulations of 105–107 yr in duration. Here, we present and evaluate a new ice-sheet model that solves the SIA and SSA approximations of the stress balance on a fully adaptive, unstructured triangular mesh. This strongly reduces the number of grid points where the equations need to be solved, increasing the computational efficiency. We show that the model reproduces the analytical solutions or model intercomparison benchmarks for a number of schematic ice-sheet configurations, indicating that the numerical approach is valid. Because of the unstructured triangular mesh, the number of vertices increases less rapidly with resolution than in a square-grid model, greatly reducing the required computation time for high resolutions. A simulation of all four continental ice sheets during an entire 120 kyr glacial cycle, with a 4 km resolution near the grounding line, is expected to take 100–200 wall clock hours on a 16-core system (1,600–3,200 core hours), implying that this model can be feasibly used for high-resolution paleo-ice-sheet simulations.

Constantijn J. Berends et al.

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Status: open (extended)
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Constantijn J. Berends et al.

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Berends_etal_2020_GMD_supplement C. J. Berends, H. Goelzer, and R. S. W. van de Wal

Constantijn J. Berends et al.


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Latest update: 01 Dec 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The largest uncertainty in projections of sea-level rise comes from ice-sheet retreat. To better understand how these ice sheets respond to the changing climate, ice sheet models are used, which must be able to reproduce both their present and past evolution. We have created a model that is fast enough to simulate an ice sheet at a high resolution over the course of an entire 120,000-yr glacial cycle. This allows us to study processes that cannot be captured by lower-resolution models.
The largest uncertainty in projections of sea-level rise comes from ice-sheet retreat. To better...