Global sea-level rise is one of the most severe impacts of climate change which threatens large coastal cities and ecosystems. Sea-level rise originates from several sources, including melting of glaciers and ice sheets. Around the Antarctic ice sheet's edges, there are thinner areas of ice that float on the ocean, called ‘ice shelves’. These ice shelves are melted underneath by the ocean, and slow the the flow of the ice sheet into the ocean.
Present ocean models used for melt-rate projections are currently limited in that they poorly represent buoyancy driven flows at the interface between the ocean and the ice shelves. Specifically, the z-level coordinate models, frequently applied in other ocean regions are not well suited to the deep buoyancy driven flows along inclined planes in ice shelf cavities, where poor resolution and steps along the ice-shelf base lead to unphysical features of the ocean circulation. This project will improve our capacity to represent and understand the ocean circulation in ice shelf cavities by implementing a novel hybrid coordinate system in a state-of-the-art global ocean model. This project will pursue this goal, through a hierarchy of idealised to fully realistic simulations, with z-levels in the open ocean and sigma coordinates in the ice shelf cavities. This project has natural partnerships with the National Oceanography Centre and British Antarctic Survey, for technical support and evaluation, and observations, respectively. The student will join a growing, vibrant modelling group at Northumbria University who are interested in improving our physical understanding of the ocean, ice-shelf and ice-sheet-climate system. The student will gain real-world experience in solving geophysical equations using complex numerical codes on the UK’s national high-performance supercomputer. The results could underpin the next generation of global ocean configurations using ice- shelves in a climate model used throughout Europe. Quantative, industry-sought, big data skills will be developed and fascinating geophysical phenomena studied.