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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 19 Feb 2019

Research article | 19 Feb 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Using a composite flow law to model deformation in the NEEM deep ice core, Greenland: Part 1 the role of grain size and grain size distribution on the deformation of Holocene and glacial ice

Ernst-Jan N. Kuiper1,2, Ilka Weikusat2,1,3, Johannes H. P. de Bresser1, Daniela Jansen2, Gill M. Pennock1, and Martyn R. Drury1 Ernst-Jan N. Kuiper et al.
  • 1Faculty of Earth Science, Utrecht University, 3508 TA Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 3Department of Geosciences, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, 72074 Tübingen, Germany

Abstract. The effect of grain size on strain rate of ice in the upper 2207 m in the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) deep ice core was investigated using a rheological model based on the composite flow law of Goldsby and Kohlstedt (1997, 2001). The grain size was described by both a mean grain size and a grain size distribution, which allowed the strain rate to be calculated using two different model end members: (i) the micro-scale constant stress model where each grain deforms by the same stress and (ii) the micro-scale constant strain rate model where each grain deforms by the same strain rate. The model results show that basal slip accommodated by grain boundary sliding produces almost all of the deformation in the upper 2207 m of the NEEM ice core, while dislocation creep (basal slip accommodated by non-basal slip) hardly contributes to deformation. The difference in calculated strain rate between the two model end members is relatively small. The calculated strain rate in the fine grained glacial ice (1419–2207 m) varies strongly with depth and is about 4–5 times higher than in the coarser grained Holocene ice (0–1419 m). Two peaks in strain rate are predicted at about 1980 and 2100 m of depth. The results from the rheological model and microstructures in the glacial ice indicate that fine grained layers in the glacial ice will act as internal preferential sliding zones in the Greenland ice sheet.

Ernst-Jan N. Kuiper et al.
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Ernst-Jan N. Kuiper et al.
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