Modelling of downward and lateral movement of water in snow on the Greenland ice sheet


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Greater Copenhagen area

The mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet contributes to about 20% of the current sea level rise. Most of this loss stems from increased melting of the snow and ice at the surface of the ice sheet. It is traditionally thought that most of the melt is produced at lower elevation on the ice sheet and that at higher altitudes the snow could retain any melt like a sponge and prevent meltwater from ending up in the ocean.

Recent field investigations brought to light the increasing number of near-surface ice layers within the snow of Greenland. These ice layers impede the downward movement of meltwater through the snow. The meltwater then initiate lateral movement towards the ice sheet margin along the slope of the ice layers’ surface. The lateral movement of the meltwater, enhanced by growing ice layers, eventually leads to runoff from regions that did not traditionally participate to the ice sheet runoff. Nevertheless all the current snow model are 1D model and do not assume lateral movement of meltwater.

In this project, the student will be in charge of updating an existing 1D firn model into a 2D model and to apply it on at a weather station site in Western Greenland. This improvement of the firn model can be, in the long term, applied in climate models that simulate the Greenland ice sheet mass loss and thereby reduce the uncertainty that applies to future prediction of sea level contribution of the ice sheet.


Good skills in Matlab or Python

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Technical University of Denmark

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