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WP 2.2: Calving Processes

Workpackage leader: Doug Benn, UNIS

SVALI students:Sue Cook


  • Quantify mass loss from calving outlet glaciers, and identify the contributing processes and their relative importance.
  • Develop and implement improved calving models, in order to include robust parameterisations of calving losses in predictive glacier models. Modelling strategy will focus on using the ELMER finite element model to simulate the evolution of calving outlet glaciers and to develop a detailed understanding of fracture processes. Also, observed power law distribution of calving event magnitudes and frequency will be used to develop a numerical model based on self-organized criticality to predict tidewater glacier dynamics. 


Calving losses are a major component of the mass balance of high-latitude glaciers and ice sheets, so it is very important to have accurate means of calculating calving in prognostic ice sheet models. Although some advances have been made in recent years, much remains to be done to include realistic, tractable calving routines in 3-D, time-evolving models. In addition, there is a need to know how well model routines reflect calving processes on different kinds of glaciers, highlighting the need for focused field and remote-sensing studies.

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Last modified : Sep. 13, 2012
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