Available Research Project

Simulation of Melting Ice Sheets subject to Climate Change

Professor M.J. Baines, Dr N.R.T. Biggs (Senior Lecturer) and Professor N.K. Nichols (joint with Meteorology

The rapid melting of ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic, and even of the many small glaciers in the Alps and in Scandinavia, is now of major environmental concern, recently highlighted by Sir David Attenborough in the Frozen Planet. The effects of this melting could lead to a significant sea level rise world-wide and to fresh water delivery to the sea locally that could influence the patterns of important ocean currents.

A primary problem in the computational simulation of ice sheets is to identify the 'grounding line' of the sheet, which is the point at which the ice sheet moves from solid land to float on the sea surface. The stability of the sheet is crucially important here and melting of the sheet can cause large sections to break off at this point, with consequent changes in ice cover and fresh water content. (See, for example: http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/2366-stunning-photo-shows-growing-antarctic-ice-rift.html

Although the mathematics of ice sheet dynamics is well-established, the prediction of profiles and grounding movement are analytically infeasible and are numerically difficult to achieve. Recently we have developed a novel 'moving mesh' approach to the simulation of ice sheets and glaciers that is driven by ice conservation and successfully reproduces ice flow features and melting. The aim of this interdisciplinary project will be to extend these techniques to identify the position of the grounding line of an ice sheet and to incorporate remotely sensed data to improve the simulation and accuracy of predicted ice flows. The derivation of realistic estimates of the uncertainty in the predicted melting of ice sheets under climate change will form a major challenge for the project.

Postgraduate Admissions and Further Enquiries

Application forms

Please apply online at www.reading.ac.uk/pgapply or complete the application form and return it by email or by post. Note that the general University requirement for a lengthy research proposal is not a requirement for applicants to Mathematics or Statistics.


Please contact our postgraduate research administrator, Kristine Aldridge.

Telephone: +44 (0) 118 378 8991

Email: maths-pg@reading.ac.uk

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