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Publication Title

The Cryosphere


Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union (EGU)

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We introduce a novel, higher order, finite element

ice sheet model called VarGlaS (Variational Glacier Simulator),

which is built on the finite element framework FEniCS.

Contrary to standard procedure in ice sheet modelling, Var-

GlaS formulates ice sheet motion as the minimization of an

energy functional, conferring advantages such as a consistent

platform for making numerical approximations, a coherent

relationship between motion and heat generation, and implicit

boundary treatment. VarGlaS also solves the equations

of enthalpy rather than temperature, avoiding the solution of

a contact problem. Rather than include a lengthy model spinup

procedure, VarGlaS possesses an automated framework

for model inversion. These capabilities are brought to bear

on several benchmark problems in ice sheet modelling, as

well as a 500 yr simulation of the Greenland ice sheet at high

resolution. VarGlaS performs well in benchmarking experiments

and, given a constant climate and a 100 yr relaxation

period, predicts a mass evolution of the Greenland ice sheet

that matches present-day observations of mass loss. VarGlaS

predicts a thinning in the interior and thickening of the margins

of the ice sheet.




© 2013 Author(s)

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.