• Analysis of low-frequency seismic signals generated during a multiple-iceberg calving event at Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland

      Walter, Fabian; Amundson, Jason M.; O'Neel, Shad; Truffer, Martin; Fahnestock, Mark; Fricker, Helen A. (American Geophysical Union, 2012-03-27)
      We investigated seismic signals generated during a large-scale, multiple iceberg calving event that occurred at Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland, on 21 August 2009. The event was recorded by a high-rate time-lapse camera and five broadband seismic stations located within a few hundred kilometers of the terminus. During the event two full-glacier-thickness icebergs calved from the grounded (or nearly grounded) terminus and immediately capsized; the second iceberg to calve was two to three times smaller than the first. The individual calving and capsize events were well-correlated with the radiation of low-frequency seismic signals (<0.1 Hz) dominated by Love and Rayleigh waves. In agreement with regional records from previously published ‘glacial earthquakes’, these low-frequency seismic signals had maximum power and/or signal-to-noise ratios in the 0.05–0.1 Hz band. Similarly, full waveform inversions indicate that these signals were also generated by horizontal single forces acting at the glacier terminus. The signals therefore appear to be local manifestations of glacial earthquakes, although the magnitudes of the signals (twice-time integrated force histories) were considerably smaller than previously reported glacial earthquakes. We thus speculate that such earthquakes may be a common, if not pervasive, feature of all full-glacier-thickness calving events from grounded termini. Finally, a key result from our study is that waveform inversions performed on low-frequency, calving-generated seismic signals may have only limited ability to quantitatively estimate mass losses from calving. In particular, the choice of source time function has little impact on the inversion but dramatically changes the earthquake magnitude. Accordingly, in our analysis, it is unclear whether the smaller or larger of the two calving icebergs generated a larger seismic signal.
    • Laboratory investigations of iceberg capsize dynamics, energy dissipation and tsunamigenesis

      Burton, J. C.; Amundson, Jason M.; Abbot, D. S.; Boghosian, A.; Cathles, L. M.; Correa-Legisos, S.; Darnell, N.; Guttenberg, N.; Holland, D. M.; MacAyeal, D. R (American Geophysical Union, 2012-01-20)
      We present laboratory experiments designed to quantify the stability and energy budget of buoyancy-driven iceberg capsize. Box-shaped icebergs were constructed out of low-density plastic, hydrostatically placed in an acrylic water tank containing freshwater of uniform density, and allowed (or forced, if necessary) to capsize. The maximum kinetic energy (translational plus rotational) of the icebergs was 15% of the total energy released during capsize, and radiated surface wave energy was 1% of the total energy released. The remaining energy was directly transferred into the water via hydrodynamic coupling, viscous drag, and turbulence. The dependence of iceberg capsize instability on iceberg aspect ratio implied by the tank experiments was found to closely agree with analytical predictions based on a simple, hydrostatic treatment of iceberg capsize. This analytical treatment, along with the high Reynolds numbers for the experiments (and considerably higher values for capsizing icebergs in nature), indicates that turbulence is an important mechanism of energy dissipation during iceberg capsize and can contribute a potentially important source of mixing in the stratified ocean proximal to marine ice margins.
    • A mass-flux perspective of the tidewater glacier cycle

      Amundson, Jason M. (International Glaciological Society, 2016-04-06)
      I explore the tidewater glacier cycle with a 1-D, depth- and width-integrated flow model that includes a mass-flux calving parameterization. The parameterization is developed from mass continuity arguments and relates the calving rate to the terminus velocity and the terminus balance velocity. The model demonstrates variable sensitivity to climate. From an advanced, stable configuration, a small warming of the climate triggers a rapid retreat that causes large-scale drawdown and is enhanced by positive glacier-dynamic feedbacks. Eventually, the terminus retreats out of deep water and the terminus velocity decreases, resulting in reduced drawdown and the potential for restabilization. Terminus readvance can be initiated by cooling the climate. Terminus advance into deep water is difficult to sustain, however, due to negative feedbacks between glacier dynamics and surface mass balance. Despite uncertainty in the precise form of the parameterization, the model provides a simple explanation of the tidewater glacier cycle and can be used to evaluate the response of tidewater glaciers to climate variability. It also highlights the importance of improving parameterizations of calving rates and of incorporating sediment dynamics into tidewater glacier models.