The Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Eprints Archive

Mathematical models of glacier sliding and drumlin formation

Schoof, C. (2002) Mathematical models of glacier sliding and drumlin formation. PhD thesis, University of Oxford.

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Abstract

One of the central difficulties in many models of glacier and ice sheet flow lies in the prescription of boundary conditions at the bed. Often, processes which occur there dominate the evolution of the ice mass as they control the speed at which the ice is able to slide over the bed. In part I of this thesis, we study two complications to classical models of glacier and ice sheet sliding. First, we focus on the effect of cavity formation on the sliding of a glacier over an undeformable, impermeable bed. Our results do not support the widely used sliding law $u_b = C\tau_b^pN^{-q}$, but indicate that $\tau_b/N$ actually decreases with $u_b/N$ at high values of the latter, as suggested previously for simple periodic beds by Fowler (1986). The second problem studied is that of an ice stream whose motion is controlled by bed obstacles with wavelengths comparable to the thickness of ice. By contrast with classical sliding theory for ice of constant viscosity,the bulk flow velocity does not depend linearly on the driving stress. Indeed, the bulk flow velocity may even be a multi-valued function of driving stress and ice thickness. In the second part of the thesis, attention is turned to the formation of drumlins. The viscous till model of Hindmarsh (1998) and Fowler (2000) is analysed in some detail. It is shown that the model does not predict the formation of three-dimensional drumlins, but only that of two-dimensional features, which may be interpreted as Rogen moraines. A non-linear model allows the simulation of the predicted bedforms at finite amplitude. Results obtained indicate that the growth of bedforms invariably leads to cavitation. A model for travelling waves in the presence of
cavitation is also developed, which shows that such travelling waves can indeed exist. Their shape is, however, unlike that of real bedforms, with a steep downstream face and no internal stratification. These results indicate that Hindmarsh and Fowler's model is probably not successful at describing the processes which lead to the formation of streamlined subglacial bedforms.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Subjects:D - G > Geophysics
O - Z > Partial differential equations
A - C > Approximations and expansions
H - N > Numerical analysis
Research Groups:Mathematical Geoscience Group
Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
ID Code:47
Deposited By:Eprints Administrator
Deposited On:11 Mar 2004
Last Modified:20 Jul 2009 14:18

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