Advances in modelling of valley glaciers
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AbstractFor glaciological conditions typical of valley glaciers, the central idea of this research lies in understanding the effects of high-order mechanics and parameterizing these for simpler dynamical and statistical methods in glaciology. As an effective tool for this, I formulate a new brand of dynamical models that describes distinct physical processes of deformational flow. Through numerical simulations of idealized glacier domains, I calculate empirical correction factors to capture the effects of longitudinal stress gradients and lateral drag for simplified dynamical models in the plane-strain regime. To get some insights into real glacier dynamics, I simulate Haig Glacier in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. As geometric effects overshadow dynamical effects in glacier retreat scenarios, it appears that high-order physics are not very important for Haig Glacier, particularly for evaluating its fate. Indeed, high-order and reduced models all predict that Haig Glacier ceases to exist by about AD 2080 under ongoing climate warming. This finding regarding the minimal role of high-order physics may not be broadly valid, as it is not true in advance scenarios at Haig Glacier and it may not be representative of other glaciological settings. Through a `bulk' parameterization of high-order physics, geometric and climatic settings, sliding conditions, and transient effects, I also provide new insights into the volume-area relation, a widely used statistical method for estimating glacier volume. I find a steady-state power-law exponent of 1.46, which declines systematically to 1.38 after 100 years of sustained retreat, in good accord with the observations. I recommend more accurate scaling relations through characterization of individual glacier morphology and degree of climatic disequilibrium. This motivates a revision of global glacier volume estimates, of some urgency in sea level rise assessments.
CitationAdhikari, S. (2012). Advances in modelling of valley glaciers (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/24726
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