Effects of spatial discretization in ice-sheet modelling using the shallow-ice approximation

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This paper assesses a two-dimensional, vertically integrated ice model for its numerical properties in the calculation of ice-sheet evolution on a sloping bed using the shallow-ice approximation. We discuss the influence of initial conditions and individual model parameters on the model’s numerical behaviour, with emphasis on varying spatial discretizations. The modelling results suffer badly from numerical problems. They show a strong dependence on gridcell size and we conclude that the widely used gridcell spacing of 20km is too coarse. The numerical errors are small in each single timestep, but increase non-linearly over time and with volume change, as a result of feedback of the mass balance with height. We propose a new method for the calculation of the surface gradient near the margin, which improves the results significantly. Furthermore, we show that we may use dimension analysis as a tool to explain in which situations numerical problems are to be expected.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number176
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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