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A model of the glacial drainage system combining channels, sheet flow and storage areas

English title A model of the glacial drainage system combining channels, sheet flow and storage areas
Applicant Werder Mauro
Number 127812
Funding scheme Fellowships for prospective researchers
Research institution Department of Earth Sciences Simon Fraser University
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.01.2010 - 30.06.2011
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Keywords (4)

glaciology; glacial drainage system; subglacial processes; numerical model

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Subglacial processes are one of the least understood glaciological phenomena. Their experimental investigation is a formidable task because no direct observations are possible due to the inaccessibility of the sites where these processes occur. However, they influence the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets in a profound manner by dictating the conditions at the bed and thus determining the sliding rate. The chief perpetrator of these subglacial processes is the water flow through the glacier and, consequently, models of the glacial drainage system are indispensable for a better understanding of ice dynamics. Furthermore, the glacial drainage system shapes the glacial discharge hydrograph and thus is an important part of mountain hydrology, including glacial lake outburst floods, which are one of the greatest glacier related hazards.

There is a lack of sophisticated models of the glacial drainage system. Thus, this project aims at developing such a model capable of simulating different subglacial water transport mechanisms like channelised and sheet flow plus their interaction with en- and subglacial water storage mechanisms. The time dependent partial differential equations describing the water flow will be solved numerically in both one and two spatial dimensions.

This model will allow to study the interplay of these drainage types and asses their relative importance under, e.g., different environmental conditions or for different glacier beds. The model will be tested with existing measurements and, additionally, model results might allow to plan future measurement strategies. Furthermore, the findings of this study could help to develop a more realistic simulation of subglacial processes in ice sheet models, making them more accurate, which is important for preciser predictions of future sea level rise due to climate warming.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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