Marine-terminating ice sheets are of interest due to their potential instability, making them vulnerable to rapid retreat. Modelling the evolution of glaciers and ice streams in such regions is key to understanding their possible contribution to sea level rise. The friction caused by the sliding of ice over bedrock and the resultant shear stress are important factors in determining the velocity of sliding ice. Many models use simple power-law expressions for the relationship between the basal shear stress and ice velocity or introduce an effective-pressure dependence into the sliding relation in an ad hoc manner. Sliding relations based on water-filled subglacial cavities are more physically motivated, with the overburden pressure of the ice included. Here we show that using a cavitation-based sliding relation allows for the temporary regrounding of an ice shelf at a point downstream of the main grounding line of a marine ice sheet undergoing retreat across a retrograde bedrock slope. This suggests that the choice of sliding relation is especially important when modelling grounding line behaviour of regions where potential ice rises and pinning points are present and regrounding could occur.
Field of science