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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 20 Feb 2019

Research article | 20 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 2 the role of grain size and premelting on ice deformation at high homologous temperature

Ernst-Jan N. Kuiper1,2, Johannes H. P. de Bresser1, Martyn R. Drury1, Jan Eichler2,3, Gill M. Pennock1, and Ilka Weikusat2,1,3 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 ice microstructure in the lower part of the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) ice core consists of relatively fine grained glacial ice with a single maximum crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) alternated by much coarser grained Eemian ice with a partial girdle type of CPO. In this study, the grain size sensitive (GSS) composite flow law of Goldsby and Kohlstedt (2001) was used to study the effects of grain size and premelting on strain rate in the lower part of the NEEM ice core. The results show that the strain rates predicted in the fine grained glacial layers are about an order of magnitude higher than in the much coarser grained Eemian layers. The dominant deformation mechanisms between the layers is also different with basal slip accommodated by grain boundary sliding (GBS-limited creep) being the dominant deformation mechanism in the glacial layers, while GBS-limited creep and dislocation creep (basal slip accommodated by non-basal slip) contribute both roughly equally to bulk strain in the coarse grained layers. Due to the large difference in microstructure between the impurity-rich glacial ice and the impurity-depleted Eemian ice at premelting temperatures (T>262 K), it is expected that the fine grained layers deform mainly by simple shear at high strain rates, while the coarse grained layers are relatively stagnant. The difference in microstructure, and consequently in viscosity, between glacial and interglacial ice at temperatures just below the melting point can have important consequences for ice dynamics close to the bedrock.

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