BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Modeling Ice Sheet Transition from Bedrock to Floating Shelf
Published: July 18, 2014
Posted: September 22, 2014

Destabilization of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could lead to significant sea level rise. The most likely shifts would occur where the ice sheet hangs out over the ocean, because once the ice sheet loosens and calves, the ice behind it could follow. Furthermore, ice on the bedrock often lies below sea level, and it drains most of its grounded ice to the ocean via ice streams. When the streams connect to the ocean water, rapid ice flow is possible. Capturing these processes accurately in a climate model generally requires very high model resolution. In a recent Department of Energy-funded study, a one-dimensional formulation (or parameterization) was developed to approximate the degree of connectivity between the ice flows and the ocean. The study showed that strong ocean connectivity not only speeds up ice flow near the grounding line, but also decreases the model error and need for high resolution near the grounding line. With strong connectivity, the study demonstrated that a grid resolution of about 1 km is sufficient to accurately model grounding-line migration. Without this connectivity using the new formulation, fixed-grid models typically would need a resolution of 200 m or less, implying much greater computational cost. If these results extend to three-dimensional models, the impact could be significant. Adding a physically plausible parameterization of ocean connectivity to these models could give comparable accuracy at greatly reduced computational cost.

Reference: Leguy, G. R., X. S. Asay-Davis, and W. H. Lipscomb. 2014. “Parameterization of Basal Friction Near Grounding Lines in a One-Dimensional Ice Sheet Model,” The Cryosphere 8, 1239-59. DOI:10.5194/tc-8-1239-2014, 2014. (Reference link)

Contact: Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)