Thinning sea ice weakens buttressing force of iceberg melange and promotes calving
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Thinning sea ice weakens buttressing force of iceberg melange and promotes calving

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  • Journal Title:
    Nature Communications
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  • Description:
    At many marine-terminating glaciers, the breakup of melange, a floating aggregation of sea ice and icebergs, has been accompanied by an increase in iceberg calving and ice mass loss. Previous studies have argued that melange may suppress calving by exerting a buttressing force directly on the glacier terminus. In this study, I adapt a discrete element model to explicitly simulate melange as a cohesive granular material. Simulations show that melange laden with thick landfast sea ice produces enough resistance to shut down calving at the terminus. When sea ice within melange thins, the buttressing force on the terminus is reduced and calving is more likely to occur. When a calving event does occur, it initiates a propagating jamming wave within melange, which causes local compression and then slow melange expansion. The jamming wave can also initiate widespread fracture of sea ice and further increase the likelihood of subsequent calving events.
  • Source:
    Nature Communications 8 (14596)
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    CC BY
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