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A Numerical Model of Glaciohydraulic Supercooling: Thermodynamics and Sediment Entrainment

Creyts, Timothy T.

Beneath many glaciers and ice sheets, hydrology influences or controls a variety of basal processes. Glaciohydraulic supercooling is a process whereby water freezes englacially or subglacially because its internal temperature is below the bulk freezing temperature. Water supercools when it is at its freezing point and flows from an area of higher pressure (lower ambient temperature) to an area of lower pressure (higher ambient temperature) without equilibrating its internal energy. The process is dependent on the configuration of the water flow path relative to the pressure gradient driving flow. I formulate the governing equations of mass, linear momentum, and internal energy for time-dependent clear water flow based on previous work (Clarke, 2003; Spring & Hutter, 1981, 1982). Because field evidence and steady-state theory point to water distributing laterally across the bed, I modify this theory to account for an aperture that is much wider than deep, which I refer to as a sheet. Ice accretion terms are formulated with porosity because accreting ice has residual porosity. Ice intrusion into such a water sheet is not described in the literature, and I formulate intrusion based on previous work as well as ideas gained from subglacial cavity formation. In addition, I modify the clear water equations to include erosion and deposition of sediment along the glacier bed and incorporation of sediment into the accreted ice. Furthermore, water may leave the ice-bed interface and flow through the glacier pore space because subglacial water pressure is relatively high when supercooling occurs. To this end, I develop an englacial waterflow model that incorporates changes in ice porosity based on creep closure and ice melt or accretion. Simulations reveal behavior that cannot be inferred from simplified models. For example, while total ice accretion is comparable to field estimates, locations of simulated ice accretion along the ice-bed interface conflict with steady state models, which tend to overpredict accretion amounts. Simulations also indicate that much sediment deposition occurs prior to water being supercooled. Sediment deposition tends to smooth subglacial topography rather than enhance it. Additional results and implications of numerical simulations are discussed.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Thesis Advisors
Clarke, Garry
Degree
Ph.D., University of British Columbia
Published Here
June 10, 2014
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