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Modelling the plumbing of ice sheets

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One of the largest uncertainties in forecasts of the melting ice caps is the role played by water at the base of the ice in lubricating ice flow. Recent observations of the Greenland Ice Sheet have shown that summer meltwater penetrating from the ice surface substantially affects the rate at which the ice slides. Faster sliding would quicken the rate at which ice is lost from the ice sheet, but the observations to date are inconclusive about the overall effect of the meltwater: some indicate that speed-up does indeed occur, whilst others suggest more melting actually leads to a slow-down of the ice. I will discuss recent attempts to understand this behaviour using mathematical models.

This talk is part of the Geophysical and Environmental Processes (DAMTP/BPI) series.

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