6) Modelling of glaciers

posted Jul 1, 2011, 3:20 AM by Ecmi Milano   [ updated Jul 7, 2011, 11:58 PM ]

Instructor: Siri-Malén Høynes

Glaciers all over Europe are retreating and the glaciers in Norway are not exceptions. Many people think that if the temperatures keep going up, some of the Norwegian glaciers will melt away. One glacier in Norway, the Briksdal glacier, has experience both retreat and growth in the last 10-15 years. This glacier is close to where I grew up, so I have seen the rapid changes this glacier has been through in the last years. Since it is one of the more interesting Norwegian glaciers, I want to focus on this glacier in this modelling problem.
How glaciers retreat and grow does not only depend on temperature, more important is the amount of precipitation, and also the size and slope of the glacier. The simplest models of glaciers lead to solving a first-order hyperbolic PDE, which in most cases will be non-linear. We will look at the basics behind the simplest glacier model and see how far we can get in making a good model for the melting of the Briksdal glacier. This will require knowledge in solving PDE's numerically (using MATLAB or octave).
In the end, if there is time, it would be nice to test some future weather scenarios and see if we can expect the glacier to melt away or grow back to it's former size.

Preferred mathematical background: Hyperbolic differential equations, solving differential equations numerically