Project Overview

The NERC funded project Calving Laws for Ice Sheet Models (CALISMO) aims to improve the parameterisation of calving in ice-sheet models.

One of the major difficulties in predicting future sea-level rise in a warming climate is modelling the calving of icebergs by ice shelves and glaciers. Although this process accounts for almost all the mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet and almost half that from the Greenland Ice Sheet, it is still inadequately represented in ice-sheet models.

By using a hierarchy of different types of numerical models we will gain a better understanding of the detailed physical processes of individual calving events at a glacier scale and how these events in turn affect the dynamics and evolution of the glacier’s geometry. The project then aims to use this understanding to develop better calving ‘laws’ for ice-sheet scale models where modelling actual calving events would be too computationally expensive.

The ready availability and quality of repeat satellite observations of the cryosphere plays an important role in initialising and validating the modelling process. The Swansea task in CALISMO is to use satellite imagery to compile datasets of key glacier variables such as ice-front behaviour, surface velocity, and calving rates. The research relates to the themes of cryosphere, sea-level rise and climate change