21 Jun 2023
 | 21 Jun 2023

An analysis of the interaction between surface and basal crevasses in ice shelves

Maryam Zarrinderakht, Christian Schoof, and Anthony Peirce

Abstract. The prescription of a simple and robust parameterization for calving is one of the most significant open problems in ice sheet modelling. One common approach to modelling of crevasse propagation in calving in ice shelves has been to view crevasse growth as an example of linear elastic fracture mechanics. Prior work has however focused on highly idealized crack geometries, with a single fracture incised into a parallel-sided slab of ice. In this paper, we study how fractures growing from opposite sides of such an ice slab interact with each other, focusing on different simple crack arrangements: we consider either perfectly aligned cracks, or periodic arrays of laterally offset cracks. We visualize the dynamics of crack growth using simple tools from dynamical systems theory, and find that aligned cracks tend to impede each other's growth due to the torques generated by normal stresses on the crack faces, while periodically offset facilitate simultaneous growth of bottom and top cracks. For periodic cracks, the presence of multiple cracks on one side of the ice slab however also generates torques that slow crack growth, with widely spaced cracks favouring calving at lower extensional stresses than closely spaced cracks.

Maryam Zarrinderakht, Christian Schoof, and Anthony Peirce

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1252', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Aug 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1252', Jeremy Bassis, 25 Sep 2023
Maryam Zarrinderakht, Christian Schoof, and Anthony Peirce
Maryam Zarrinderakht, Christian Schoof, and Anthony Peirce


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Short summary
The objective of the study is to understand the interactions between surface and basal crevasses by conducting a stability analysis and addressing the implications of the findings for potential calving laws. The study's findings indicate that while the propagation of one crack in the case of two aligned surface and basal crevasses does not significantly reinforce the propagation of the other, the presence of multiple crevasses on one side enhances stability and decreases crack propagation.