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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-12
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-12
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 11 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 11 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Diagnosing the sensitivity of grounding line flux to changes in sub-ice shelf melting

Tong Zhang1, Stephen F. Price1, Matthew J. Hoffman1, Mauro Perego2, and Xylar Asay-Davis1 Tong Zhang et al.
  • 1Fluid Dynamics and Solid Mechanics Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, 87545, USA
  • 2Center for Computing Research, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, 87185, USA

Abstract. We seek to understand causal connections between changes in sub-ice shelf melting, ice shelf buttressing, and grounding-line flux. Using a numerical ice flow model, we study changes in ice shelf buttressing and grounding line flux due to localized ice thickness perturbations – a proxy for changes in sub-ice shelf melting – applied to idealized (MISMIP+) and realistic (Larsen C) domains. From our experiments, we identify a correlation between a locally derived buttressing number on the ice shelf, based on the first principal stress, and changes in the integrated grounding line flux. The origin of this correlation, however, remains elusive from a physical perspective; while local thickness perturbations on the ice shelf (thinning) generally correspond to local increases in buttressing, their integrated impact on changes at the grounding line are exactly the opposite (buttressing at the grounding line decreases and ice flux at the grounding line increases). This and additional complications encountered when examining realistic domains motivates us to seek an alternative approach, an adjoint-based method for calculating the sensitivity of the integrated grounding line flux to local changes in ice shelf geometry. We show that the adjoint-based sensitivity is identical to that deduced from pointwise, diagnostic model perturbation experiments. Based on its much wider applicability and the significant computational savings, we propose that the adjoint-based method is ideally suited for assessing grounding line flux sensitivity to changes in sub-ice shelf melting.

Tong Zhang et al.

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