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Marine ice sheet dynamics. Part 2. A Stokes flow contact problem

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2011

Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, 6339 Stores Road, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, Canada
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We develop an asymptotic theory for marine ice sheets from a first-principles Stokes flow contact problem, in which different boundary conditions apply to areas where ice is in contact with bedrock and inviscid sea water, along with suitable inequalities on normal stress and boundary location constraining contact and non-contact zones. Under suitable assumptions about basal slip in the contact areas, the boundary-layer structure for this problem replicates the boundary layers previously identified for marine ice sheets from depth-integrated models and confirms the results of these previous models: the interior of the grounded ice sheet can be modelled as a standard free-surface lubrication flow, while coupling with the membrane-like floating ice shelf leads to two boundary conditions on this lubrication flow model at the contact line. These boundary conditions determine ice thickness and ice flux at the contact line and allow the lubrication flow model with a contact line to be solved as a moving boundary problem. In addition, we find that the continuous transition of vertical velocity from grounded to floating ice requires the presence of two previously unidentified boundary layers. One of these takes the form of a viscous beam, in which a wave-like surface feature leads to a continuous transition in surface slope from grounded to floating ice, while the other provides boundary conditions on this viscous beam at the contact line.

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