Data-Driven Inference of the Mechanics of Slip Along Glacier Beds Using Physics-Informed Neural Networks: Case study on Rutford Ice Stream, Antarctica

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Bryan Riel , Brent Minchew, Tobias Bischoff


Reliable projections of sea-level rise depend on accurate representations of how fast-flowing glaciers slip along their beds. The mechanics of slip are often parameterized as a constitutive relation (or `sliding law') whose proper form remains uncertain. Here, we present a novel deep learning-based framework for learning the time evolution of drag at glacier beds from time-dependent ice velocity and elevation observations. We use a feedforward neural network, informed by the governing equations of ice flow, to infer spatially and temporally varying basal drag and associated uncertainties from data. We test the framework on 1D and 2D ice flow simulation outputs and demonstrate the recovery of the underlying basal mechanics under various levels of observational and modeling uncertainties. We apply this framework to time-dependent velocity data for Rutford Ice Stream, Antarctica, and present evidence that ocean-tide-driven changes in subglacial water pressure drive changes in ice flow over the tidal cycle.



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Antarctica, Basal drag


Published: 2021-01-19 11:13

Last Updated: 2021-05-13 19:27

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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