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Melt-under-cutting and buoyancy-driven calving from tidewater glaciers: new insights from discrete element and continuum model simulations


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Benn, DI, Astrom, J, Zwinger, T, Todd, J, Nick, FM, Cook, S ORCID: 0000-0001-9878-4218, Hulton, NRJ and Luckman, A 2017 , 'Melt-under-cutting and buoyancy-driven calving from tidewater glaciers: new insights from discrete element and continuum model simulations' , Journal of Glaciology, vol. 63, no. 240 , pp. 691-702 , doi: 10.1017/jog.2017.41.

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The simple calving laws currently used in ice-sheet models do not adequately reflect the complexity and diversity of calving processes. To be effective, calving laws must be grounded in a sound understanding of how calving actually works. Here, we develop a new strategy for formulating calving laws, using (a) the Helsinki Discrete Element Model (HiDEM) to explicitly model fracture and calving processes, and (b) the continuum model Elmer/Ice to identify critical stress states associated with HiDEM calving events. A range of observed calving processes emerges spontaneously from HiDEM in response to variations in ice-front buoyancy and the size of subaqueous undercuts. Calving driven by buoyancy and melt under-cutting is under-predicted by existing calving laws, but we show that the location and magnitude of HiDEM calving events can be predicted in Elmer/Ice from characteristic stress patterns. Our results open the way to developing calving laws that properly reflect the diversity of calving processes, and provide a framework for a unified theory of the calving process continuum.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Benn, DI and Astrom, J and Zwinger, T and Todd, J and Nick, FM and Cook, S and Hulton, NRJ and Luckman, A
Keywords: glaciology, iceberg calving, glaciological modelling
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Glaciology
Publisher: Int Glaciol Soc
ISSN: 0022-1430
DOI / ID Number: 10.1017/jog.2017.41
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© The Author(s) 2017. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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