Glaciers: Dynamics of melting and flow


The Himalayan glaciers are a source of fresh water for millions. So the possibility of them retreating, given the accelerated pace of climate change, is a dire one. Moreover, the melting of the glaciers could translate into a rise in flash floods. Predicting the behaviour of glaciers, however, is a difficult task, due to a dearth of data (although recent campaigns have been launched to remedy this) and a lack of fundamental understanding of the mechanics of glacial flows. This project seeks to address the latter issue and investigate the flow in and of glaciers, with an emphasis on identifying the fundamental mechanisms at work. This will require the development and analysis of mathematical models, which account for the coupling between the mechanics of flow and the thermodynamics of melting. Some phenomena of interest are the formation of moulins (vertical holes than penetrate through the entire glacier) and sub-glacial water channels, surging and glacial lake floods.

Some interesting research articles in this area:

Fowler AC, Chapwanya M., 2014, An instability theory for the formation of ribbed moraine, drumlins and mega-scale glacial lineations. Proc. R. Soc. A 470: 20140185.

Fannon JS, Fowler AC, Moyles IR. 2017, Numerical simulations of drumlin formation. Proc. R. Soc. A 473: 20170220.

Michael C. Dallaston and Ian J. Hewitt, 2014, "Free-boundary models of a meltwater conduit", Physics of Fluids 26, 083101.

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