Past Mathematical Geoscience Seminar

17 November 2017
14:15
Vassillios Dallas
Abstract

The existence of planetary and stellar magnetic fields is attributed to the dynamo instability, the mechanism by which a background turbulent flow spontaneously generates a magnetic field by the constructive refolding of magnetic field lines. Many efforts have been made by several experimental groups to reproduce the dynamo instability in the laboratory using liquid metals. However, so far, unconstrained dynamos driven by turbulent flows have not been achieved in the intrinsically low magnetic Prandtl number $P_m$ (i.e. $Pm = Rm/Re << 1$) laboratory experiments. In this seminar I will demonstrate that the critical magnetic Reynolds number $Rm_c$ for turbulent non-helical dynamos in the low $P_m$ limit can be significantly reduced if the flow is submitted to global rotation. Even for moderate rotation rates the required energy injection rate can be reduced by a factor more than 1000. Our finding thus points into a new paradigm for the design of new liquid metal dynamo experiments.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
3 November 2017
14:15
Abstract

I will describe our research on numerical methods for atmospheric dynamical cores based on compatible finite element methods. These methods extend the properties of the Arakawa C-grid to finite element methods by using compatible finite element spaces that respect the elementary identities of vector-calculus. These identities are crucial in demonstrating basic stability properties that are necessary to prevent the spurious numerical degradation of geophysical balances that would otherwise make numerical discretisations unusable for weather and climate prediction without the introduction of undesirable numerical dissipation. The extension to finite element methods allow these properties to be enjoyed on non-orthogonal grids, unstructured multiresolution grids, and with higher-order discretisations. In addition to these linear properties, for the shallow water equations, the compatible finite element structure can also be used to build numerical discretisations that respect conservation of energy, potential vorticity and enstrophy; I will survey these properties. We are currently developing a discretisation of the 3D compressible Euler equations based on this framework in the UK Dynamical Core project (nicknamed "Gung Ho"). The challenge is to design discretisation of the nonlinear operators that remain stable and accurate within the compatible finite element framework. I will survey our progress on this work to date and present some numerical results.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
20 October 2017
14:15
Luke Bennetts
Abstract

Following several decades of development by applied mathematicians, models of ocean wave interactions with sea ice floes are now in high demand due to the rapid recent changes in the world’s sea ice cover. From a mathematical perspective, the models are of interest due to the thinness of the floes, leading to elastic responses of the floes to waves, and the vast number of floes that waves encounter. Existing models are typically based on linear theories, but the thinness of the floes leads to the unique and highly nonlinear phenomenon of overwash, where waves run over the floes, in doing so dissipating wave energy and impacting the floes thermodynamically. I will give an overview of methods developed for the wave-floe problem, and present a new, bespoke overwash model, along with supporting laboratory experiments and numerical CFD simulations.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
2 June 2017
14:15
Keaton Burns
Abstract

Dedalus is a new open-source framework for solving general partial differential equations using spectral methods.  It is designed for maximum extensibility and incorporates features such as symbolic equation entry, custom domain construction, and automatic MPI parallelization.  I will briefly describe key algorithmic features of the code, including our sparse formulation and support for general tensor calculus in curvilinear domains.  I will then show examples of the code’s capabilities with various applications to astrophysical and geophysical fluid dynamics, including a compressible flow benchmark against a finite volume code, and direct numerical simulations of turbulent glacial melting

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
19 May 2017
14:15
Pippa Whitehouse
Abstract

In my research I model three components of the Earth system: the ice sheets, the ocean, and the solid Earth. In the first half of this talk I will describe the traditional approach that is used to model the impact of ice sheet growth and decay on global sea-level change and solid Earth deformation. I will then go on to explain how collaboration across the fields of glaciology, geodynamics and seismology is providing exciting new insight into feedbacks between ice dynamics and solid Earth deformation.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
5 May 2017
14:15
David Rees Jones
Abstract

In July 2011, the observation of a massive phytoplankton bloom underneath a sea ice–covered region of the Chukchi Sea shifted the scientific consensus that regions of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice were inhospitable to photosynthetic life. Although the impact of widespread phytoplankton blooms under sea ice on Arctic Ocean ecology and carbon fixation is potentially marked, the prevalence of these events in the modern Arctic and in the recent past is, to date, unknown. We investigate the timing, frequency, and evolution of these events over the past 30 years. Although sea ice strongly attenuates solar radiation, it has thinned significantly over the past 30 years. The thinner summertime Arctic sea ice is increasingly covered in melt ponds, which permit more light penetration than bare or snow-covered ice. We develop a simple mathematical model to investigate these physical mechanisms. Our model results indicate that the recent thinning of Arctic sea ice is the main cause of a marked increase in the prevalence of light conditions conducive to sub-ice blooms. We find that as little as 20 years ago, the conditions required for sub-ice blooms may have been uncommon, but their frequency has increased to the point that nearly 30% of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean in July permits sub-ice blooms. Recent climate change may have markedly altered the ecology of the Arctic Ocean.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
24 February 2017
14:15
Ian Hewitt
Abstract

Many northern hemisphere climate records show a series of rapid climate changes - Dansgaard-Oesgher (D-O) cycles - that recurred on centennial to millennial timescales throughout most of the last glacial period.  They consist of sudden warming jumps of order 10°C, followed generally by a slow cooling lasting a few centuries, and then a rapid temperature drop into a cold period of similar length.  Most explanations for D-O events call on changes in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), but the mechanism for triggering and pacing such changes is uncertain. Changes in freshwater delivery to the ocean are assumed to be important. 

Here, we investigate whether the proposed AMOC changes could have occurred as part of a natural relaxation oscillation, in which runoff from the northern hemisphere ice sheets varies in response to each warming and cooling event, and in turn provides the freshwater delivery that controls the ocean circulation.  In this mechanism the changes are buffered and paced by slow changes in salnity of the Arctic ocean.  We construct a simple model to investigate whether the timescales and magnitudes make this a viable mechanism.  

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
27 January 2017
14:15
Colin Meyer
Abstract

Radar data from both Greenland and Antarctica show folds and other disruptions to the stratigraphy of the deep ice. The mechanisms by which stratigraphy deforms are related to the interplay between ice flow and topography. Here we show that when ice flows across valleys or overdeepenings, viscous overturnings called Moffatt eddies can develop. At the base of a subglacial valley, the shear on the valley walls is transfered through the ice, forcing the ice to overturn. To understand the formation of these eddies, we numerically solve the non-Newtonian Stokes equations with a Glen's law rheology to determine the critical valley angle for the eddies to form. The decrease in ice viscosity with shear enhances shear localization and, therefore, Moffatt eddies form in smaller valley angles (steeper slopes) than in a fluid that does not localize shear, such as a Newtonian fluid. When temperature is incorporated into the ice rheology, the warmer basal ice is less viscous and eddies form in larger valley angles (shallower slopes) than in isothermal ice. We apply our simulations to the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains and solve for the ice flow over radar-determined topography. These simulations show Moffatt eddies on the order of 100 meters tall in the deep subglacial valleys.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar

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