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Modeling calving process of glacier with dilated polyhedral discrete element method


Liu, L and Li, J and Sun, Q and Li, C and Cook, S and Ji, S, Modeling calving process of glacier with dilated polyhedral discrete element method, Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 40, (7) pp. 159-169. ISSN 0253-505X (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Chinese Society for Oceanography and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021

DOI: doi:10.1007/s13131-021-1819-x


Mass loss caused by glacier calving is one of the direct contributors to global sea level rise. Reliable calving laws are required for accurate modelling of ice sheet mass balance. Both continuous and discontinuous methods have been used for glacial calving simulations. In this study, the discrete element method (DEM) based on dilated polyhedral elements is introduced to simulate the calving process of a tidewater glacier. Dilated polyhedrons can be obtained from the Minkowski sum of a sphere and a core polyhedron. These elements can be utilized to generate a continuum ice material, where the interaction force between adjacent elements is modeled by constructing bonds at the joints of the common faces. A hybrid fracture model considering fracture energy is introduced. The viscous creep behavior of glaciers on long-term scales is not considered. By applying buoyancy and gravity to the modelled glacier, DEM results show that the calving process is caused by cracks which are initialized at the top of the glacier and spread to the bottom. The results demonstrate the feasibility of using the dilated polyhedral DEM method in glacier simulations, additionally allowing the fragment size of the breaking fragments to be counted. The relationship between crack propagation and internal stress in the glacier is analyzed during calving process. Through the analysis of the Mises stress and the normal stress between the elements, it is found that geometric changes caused by the glacier calving lead to the redistribution of the stress. The tensile stress between the elements is the main influencing factor of glacier ice failure. In addition, the element shape, glacier base friction and buoyancy are studied, the results show that the glacier model based on the dilated polyhedral DEM is sensitive to the above conditions.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:glacier, iceberg calving, discrete element method, dilated polyhedral element, bond and fracture model
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Glaciology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Antarctic and Southern Ocean ice dynamics
UTAS Author:Cook, S (Dr Sue Cook)
ID Code:144955
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Australian Antarctic Program Partnership
Deposited On:2021-06-23
Last Modified:2022-08-23

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