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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-117
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Jun 2018

Research article | 13 Jun 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal The Cryosphere (TC) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Representation of basal melting at the grounding line in ice flow models

Hélène Seroussi1 and Mathieu Morlighem2 Hélène Seroussi and Mathieu Morlighem
  • 1Jet Propulsion Laboratory – California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
  • 2Department of Earth System Science, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA

Abstract. While a lot of attention has been given to the numerical implementation of grounding lines and basal friction in the grounding zone, little has been done about the impact of the numerical treatment of ocean-induced basal melting in this region. Several strategies are currently being employed in the ice sheet modeling community, and the resulting grounding line dynamics may differ strongly, which ultimately add significant uncertainty to the projected contribution of marine ice sheets to sea level rise. We investigate here several implementations of basal melt parameterization on partially floating elements in a finite element framework, based on the Marine Ice Sheet-Ocean Model Intercomparison Project (MISOMIP) setup: (1) melt applied only to entirely floating elements, (2) melt applied over the entire elements that are crossed by the grounding line, and (3) melt integrated partially over the floating portion of a finite element using two different sub-element integration methods. All methods converge towards the same state when the mesh resolution is fine enough. However, (2) and (3) will systematically overestimate the rate of grounding line retreat in coarser resolutions, while (1) converges faster to the solution in most cases. The differences between sub-element parameterizations are exacerbated for experiments with large melting rates in the vicinity of the grounding line and for a Weertman sliding law. As most real-world simulations use horizontal mesh resolutions of several hundreds of meters at best, and large melt rates are generally present close to the grounding lines, we recommend using (1) to avoid overestimating the rate of grounding line retreat.

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Hélène Seroussi and Mathieu Morlighem
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Hélène Seroussi and Mathieu Morlighem
Hélène Seroussi and Mathieu Morlighem
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