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The flexural dynamics of melting ice shelves

  • Douglas R. MacAyeal (a1) and Olga V. Sergienko (a2)
Abstract

A conspicuous precursor of catastrophic ice-shelf break-up along the Antarctic Peninsula, reported widely in the literature, is the gradual increase in surface melting and consequent proliferation of supraglacial lakes and dolines. Here we present analytical and numerical solutions for the flexure stresses within an ice shelf covered by lakes and dolines, both isolated and arrayed. We conclude that surface water promotes ice-shelf instability in two ways: (1) by water-assisted crevasse penetration, as previously noted, and (2) by the inducement of strong tensile flexure stresses (exceeding background spreading stress by 10–100 times) in response to surface water mass loads and ‘hydrostatic rebound’ occurring when meltwater lakes drain.

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References
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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
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