Geophysics Department Seminar: Teresa Kyrke-Smith (Oxford) - Subglacial hydrology and the formation of Antarctic ice streams
Title: Subglacial hydrology and the formation of Antarctic ice streams
Ice sheets are among the key controls on global climate and sea-level change. A detailed understanding of their dynamics is crucial so to make accurate predictions of their mass balance into the future. Ice streams are the dominant negative component in this balance, accounting for up to 90% of the Antarctic ice flux into ice shelves and ultimately into the sea. Despite their importance, our understanding of ice-stream dynamics is far from complete.
A range of observations associate ice streams with meltwater. Meltwater lubricates the ice at its bed, allowing it to slide with less internal deformation. It is believed that ice streams may appear due to a localization feedback between ice flow, basal melting and water pressure in the underlying sediments. I will present a model of subglacial water flow below ice sheets, and particularly below ice streams. This hydrologic model is coupled to a model for ice flow. I show that under some conditions this coupled system gives rise to ice streams by instability of the internal dynamics.