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Earth Surface & Interior, Water & Energy Cycles

Ice dynamics at the grounding zone (the point at which grounded ice goes afloat) represent a critical boundary condition for ice sheet stability, and they represent a large gap in our understanding of processes controlling ice loss to the oceans [Vaughan and Arthern, 2007]. It is well established that the grounding line where the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) enters the Ross Ice Shelf has migrated extensively in the past [e.g. Conway et al., 1999]. However, at present, observations reveal a largely static grounding-line with migration documented in only a few localized spots [Bindschadler and Vornberger, 1998; Fricker et al., 2007; Horgan and Anandakrishnan, 2006]. A potentially stabilizing feedback, whereby the ice-sheet deposits sediment at its own grounding line, has been reported [Alley et al., 2007; Anandakrishnan et al., 2007]. Understanding the complex interplay of ice dynamics, subglacial sediments, and ocean forcing therefore seems integral to understanding the role the WAIS will play in future climate scenarios. Here we propose to use existing ICESat-I laser-altimetry data, CryoSat-2 data, groundbased geophysical observations, and a viscoelastic flowline model to address several key processes at the Siple Coast grounding line of the WAIS. These key processes include grounding-line stability and the degree of basal melt occurring proximal to the grounding line. We propose to continue the excellent observational record provided by ICESat-I by calibrating and incorporating the soon-to-be available observations of CryoSat-2. Importantly, we propose to incorporate these data into a new higher-order viscoelastic model framework to address questions of first-order significance for ice-sheet dynamics and stability. We argue that the viscoelastic treatment is an improvement on previous elastic beam [Holdsworth, 1977; Vaughan, 1995], or elastic plate models [Schmeltz et al., 2002] and that incorporating this treatment into a flowline model will allow valuable comparative data analysis and data integration.

Project PI: Sridhar Anandakrishnan/Penn State University

Dept. of Geosciences and Earth & Environmental Systems Institute 442 Deike Bldg University Park, PA 16802.

Phone: (814) 863-6742

Fax: (814) 863-8724

Email:  sak@essc.psu.edu

http://www.geosc.psu.edu/people/faculty/personalpages/sanan/index.html

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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011

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