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Calibration of a higher-order 3-D ice-flow model of the Morteratsch glacier complex, Engadin, Switzerland

  • H. Zekollari (a1), P. Huybrechts (a1), J.J. Fürst (a1), O. Rybak (a1) and O. Eisen (a2)...


We have reconstructed the ice thickness distribution of the Morteratsch glacier complex, Switzerland, and used this to simulate its flow with a higher-order 3-D model. Ice thickness was measured along transects with a ground-penetrating radar and further extended over the entire glacier using the plastic flow assumption and a distance-weighted interpolation technique. We find a maximum ice thickness of 350 ±52.5 m for the central trunk of Vadret da Morteratsch, resulting from a bedrock overdeepening. The average thickness of the glacier complex is 72.2 ±18.0 m, which corresponds to a total ice volume of 1.14 ± 0.28 km3. The flow of the glacier is modelled by tuning the rate factor and the sliding parameters taking into account higher-order terms in the force balance. The observed velocities can be reproduced closely (root-mean-square error of 15.0 m a-1, R 2 = 0.93) by adopting a sliding factor of 12 x 10–16 m7 N–3 a-1 and a rate factor of 1.6 x 10-16 Pa-3 a-1 . In this setting, ice deformation accounts for 70% of the surface velocity and basal sliding for the remaining 30%. The modelled velocity field reaches values up to 125 ma-1, but also indicates an almost stagnant front and confluence area, which are crucial for understanding the ongoing glacier retreat.

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