Quaternary geology and Paleoclimate


Modeling Englacial Layers and Tracers in Ice Sheets

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PEOPLE INVOLVED AT UIB: Tobias Zolles, Alexios Theofilopoulos

OBJECTIVES: Most of the decisions concerning the future evolution of climate are  informed by numerical models. Given the high stakes involved and potential daunting perspectives and risks such as rising seas, it is

imperative that these models are of the highest quality and take advantage of all available data. It is thus unacceptable that the current state-of-the-art estimates of sea level rise from ice sheet modeling are not capable to include information from high-quality reconstructions of the ice sheet's past available from ice cores. Can we trust these models with simulating future states if the validation of their skills does not incorporate some of the best available data?

The vertical profiles of geochemical tracers in ice cores, complemented by recent advances in ice penetrating radar techniques, represent the full history of past ice surface topographies and dynamics, and thus ice sheet volumes. Numerical simulations of these archives could afford great advances both in the interpretation of paleoclimate reconstructions as well as to improve ice sheet models themselves and hence future projections of sea level. However, existing ice sheet models have fundamental mathematical shortcomings that subject tracers  to spurious numerical diffusion and render such attempts infeasible. In  MELT, we develop a novel approach capable of simulating ice cores in high detail, based on a radical redesign of the vertical flow of ice that preserves the full three-dimensional stratigraphy.