Ice sheet modelling and applications to Greenland, Antarctica and the Martian polar ice caps

Australian Institute of Physics Public Lecture

presented by Professor Ralf Greve from the Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan ACE-CRC, Hobart (Invited Visiting Fellow)

Ice sheets, ice shelves, ice caps and glaciers are active, dynamic components of the climate system of the Earth, and they deserve the same scientific attention as the atmosphere and the oceans. Since the late 1970s, numerical modelling has become established as an important technique for the understanding of ice dynamics. Ice sheet models are particularly relevant for predicting their possible response to climate change and consequent sea level rise, and thus a number of such models have been developed over the years. Recent observations actually suggest that ice dynamics could play a crucial role in predicting future sea level rise under global warming conditions. Despite this great relevance, ice sheet modelling is still underrepresented within the international climatology communities, compared to the large efforts made into atmosphere and ocean research. In this contribution, I will review the state of the art and current problems of ice sheet modelling. An outline of the underlying fluid-dynamical theory will beĀ given, and crucial processes (basal sliding, calving, and interaction with the solid Earth) will be discussed. Further, I will present selected applications to problems of past, present and future glaciation of Greenland, Antarctica, and also the polar ice caps of the planet Mars.

Ralf Greve is a professor for glacier and ice sheet research at Hokkaido University’s Institute of Low Temperature Science in Sapporo, Japan (since 2004). He is a physicist by training, earned his doctor degree in 1995 at Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany, with a theoretical, analytical, and numerical study on the dynamics and thermodynamics of polythermal ice sheets, and has continued with related research since then. Until 2003 he worked as a scientific employee, scientific assistant and lecturer at the Department of Mechanics, Darmstadt University of Technology. Ralf Greve is the author/co-author of more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers and two textbooks on ice dynamics and continuum mechanics. Further, he serves as Scientific Editor for the Journal of Glaciology and is the current head of the division “Planetary and Other Ices of the Solar System” of the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS).