Short Name:

OPP-PRF Calving, Icebergs, and Climate

Icebergs influence climate by controlling how freshwater from ice sheets is distributed into the ocean, where roughly half of ice sheet mass loss is attributed to iceberg calving in the current climate. The freshwater deposited by icebergs as they drift and melt can affect ocean circulation, sea-ice formation, and biological primary productivity. Furthermore, calving of icebergs from ice shelves, the floating extensions of ice sheets, can influence ice sheet evolution and sea-level rise by reducing the resistive stresses provided by ice shelves on the seaward flow of upstream grounded ice. The majority of mass calved from ice shelves occurs in the form of tabular icebergs, which are typically hundreds of meters thick and on the order of tens to hundreds of kilometers in length and width. Tabular calving occurs when full-thickness ice shelf fractures known as rifts propagate to the edges of the ice shelf. These calving events are infrequent, often with decades between events on an individual ice shelf. Changes in tabular calving behavior, i.e., the size and frequency of calving events, can strongly influence climate and ice sheet evolution. However, tabular calving behavior, and how it responds to changes in climate, is neither well understood nor accurately represented in climate models. In this project, a tabular calving parameterization for climate models will be developed. The parameterization will be derived according to data generated from a series of realistic and idealized century-scale tabular calving simulations, which will be performed with a novel ice flow and damage framework that can be applied at the scale of individual ice sheet-ice shelf systems: the CD-MPM-SSA (Continuum Damage Material Point Method for Shelfy-Stream Approximation). During these simulations, the geometry of the ice shelf, mechanical/rheological properties of the ice, and climate forcings such as ocean temperature will be varied to determine the rifting and calving response. The calving parameterization derived from these experiments will be implemented in a Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) climate model, where it will be coupled with a bonded-particle iceberg model. Then, experiments will be run to study the feedback between changes in iceberg calving behavior and climate. Success of this project will improve our understanding and representation of the ice mass budget, ice sheet evolution, and ocean freshwater fluxes, and will improve projections of climate change and sea-level rise.

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