IMI Interdisciplinary Mathematics InstituteCollege of Arts and Sciences

Numerical modeling of glaciers

  • Sept. 30, 2013
  • 2 p.m.
  • LeConte 312


Knowledge of present-day ice temperature and velocity is important in order to determine how fast a glacier will respond to present and future climate change. We apply a two-dimensional higher-order thermomechanical flowband model to simulate present-day ice temperature and velocity along the main flowline of East Rongbuk Glacier, Qomolangma (Mount Everest), Himalaya. We use recent (2005–11) observational data to validate the numerical model. Modelled and observed ice surface velocities exhibit good agreement. Modelled ice temperatures agree well with observed values in two shallow boreholes that are ~18 m deep. The model suggests that the ablation zone of East Rongbuk Glacier, km 4 to km 10 from the glacier head, is underlain by temperate ice.

Coupling an enthalpy model to the ice flow model, we re-calculate the ice temperature field along the main flow-line of ERG and thus the size of temperate ice zone (the extent of CTS). We then get the water content distribution within the temperate ice zone. Compared with the case in reality, the modeling results of the temperature field from the temperature model may probably be underestimated. The enthalpy model may probably be better to simulate the englacial energy balance characteristics of alpine valley glaciers.

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