Grant: $295,099 - National Science Foundation - Sep. 1, 2009
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Award Description: Changes in ice sheets are central in predicting sea level. Because of lack of understanding of ice-sheet flow, the IPCC provided neither a best estimate nor an upper bound on sea-level rise over the next century and beyond. Many uncertainties are important, including the magnitude of forcing from warming of ocean waters beneath ice shelves, and the magnitude of the buttressing lost as the shelves thin in response. The biggest uncertainty is probably the size of the ice-stream speed-up that will occur in response to reduced ice-shelf buttressing. Most of the response will be additional sliding between ice and bed, or deformation within soft sediments of the bed. Despite more than 50 years of 'modern inquiry on basal sliding and 30 years of 'modern work on subglacial till deformation, however, the community lacks a quantitatively predictive understanding of sliding and bed deformation. Indeed, there is still a debate about whether till follows a linear-viscous or power-law behavior, grossly different relations. And, there are no obvious paths to rapid transformational breakthroughs by continuation of ongoing research. Fortunately, a great number of phenomena have been observed recently involving rapid changes in basal shear stress or lubrication, and associated changes in ice-flow velocity. This suggests that we can learn the basal flow law(s) from the natural response to these naturally changing conditions. The difficulty is that these perturbations are fast enough that they involve elastic response, and modern flow models typically omit elasticity.
Project Description: A three-year modeling effort to develop viscoelastic ice-flow models and the techniques for data assimilation, to help constrain basal flow laws. Success of this effort would point the way to major reductions in uncertainty about future sea-level rise. Potential changes in sea-level rise are of great societal relevance. Loss of one or more of the ice sheets could cause meters or more of sea-level rise, flooding widespread and densely settled regions of very valuable land. The failure of the IPCC to provide guidance on future sea-level rise leaves policymakers to guess whether major mitigation or adaptation efforts are required. Helping reduce this uncertainty thus would be a very important broader impact. The proposed research will contribute to the advancement of a promising young scientist. One or more undergraduate students will be recruited to participate in the research, and the young scientist will gain experience in helping advise the student. All project staff will participate in a vigorous and highly successful education and outreach program.
Jobs Summary: Nothing to report currently. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Not Started
This award's data was last updated on Sep. 1, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.