2 November 2012
Ice-dammed lakes form next to, on the surface of, and beneath glaciers and ice sheets. Some lakes are known to drain catastrophically, creating hazards, wasting water resources and modulating the flow of the adjacent ice. My work aims to increase our understanding of such drainage. Here I will focus on lakes that form next to glaciers and drain subglacially (between ice and bedrock) through a channel. I will describe how such a system can be modelled and present results from model simulations of a lake that fills due to an input of meltwater and drains through a channel that receives a supply of meltwater along its length. Simulations yield repeating cycles of lake filling and drainage and reveal how increasing meltwater input to the system affects these cycles: enlarging or attenuating them depending on how the meltwater is apportioned between the lake and the channel. When inputs are varied with time, simulating seasonal meteorological cycles, the model simulates either regularly repeating cycles or irregular cycles that never repeat. Irregular cycles demonstrate sensitivity to initial conditions, a high density of periodic orbits and topological mixing. I will discuss how these results enhance our understanding of the mechanisms behind observed variability in these systems.
- Mathematical Geoscience Seminar