The impact of spatially varying ice sheet basal conditions on sliding at glacial time scales

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Evan James Gowan , Sebastian Hinck, Lu Niu, Caroline Clason, Gerrit Lohmann


Spatially variable basal conditions are thought to govern how ice sheets behave at glacial time scales (>1000 years) and responsible for changes in dynamics between the core and peripheral regions of the Laurentide and Fennoscandian ice sheets. Basal motion is accomplished via the deformation of unconsolidated sediments, or via sliding of the ice over an undeformable bed. We present an ice sheet sliding module for the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM) that takes into account changes in sediment cover and incorporates surface meltwater. This model routes meltwater, produced at the surface and base of the ice sheet, towards the margin of the ice sheet. Basal sliding is accomplished through the deformation of water saturated sediments, or sliding at the ice-bed interface. In areas with continuous, water saturated sediments, sliding is almost always accomplished through sediment deformation. In areas with incomplete cover, sliding has a stronger dependence on the supply of water. We find that the addition of surface meltwater to the base is a more important factor for ice sheet evolution than the style of sliding. In a glacial cycle simulation, our model causes a more rapid buildup of the Laurentide Ice Sheet.



Earth Sciences, Glaciology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


ice sheets, glacial hydrology, basal conditions, ice sheet flow


Published: 2021-07-28 05:18

Last Updated: 2022-07-22 10:45

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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