Modelling debris transport within glaciers by advection in a full-Stokes ice flow model

Anna Wirbel, Alexander H. Jarosch, Lindsey Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Glaciers with extensive surface debris cover respond differently to climate forcing than those without supraglacial debris. In order to include debris-covered glaciers in projections of glaciogenic runoff and sea level rise and to understand the paleoclimate proxy recorded by such glaciers, it is necessary to understand the manner and timescales over which a supraglacial debris cover develops. Because debris is delivered to the glacier by processes that are heterogeneous in space and time, and these debris inclusions are altered during englacial transport through the glacier system, correctly determining where, when and how much debris is delivered to the glacier surface requires knowledge of englacial transport pathways and deformation. To achieve this, we present a model of englacial debris transport in which we couple an advection scheme to a full-Stokes ice flow model. The model performs well in numerical benchmark tests, and we present both 2-D and 3-D glacier test cases that, for a set of prescribed debris inputs, reproduce the englacial features, deformation thereof and patterns of surface emergence predicted by theory and observations of structural glaciology. In a future step, coupling this model to (i) a debris-aware surface mass balance scheme and (ii) a supraglacial debris transport scheme will enable the co-evolution of debris cover and glacier geometry to be modelled.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-204
JournalThe Cryosphere
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2018

Other keywords

  • Jöklar
  • Jöklarannsóknir
  • Tvívídd
  • Þrívídd
  • Líkön


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