Publications by Andrew Wells

Turbulent plumes from a glacier terminus melting in a stratified ocean

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans American Geophysical Union 121 (2016) 4670-4696

A Wells, SJ Magorrian

The melting of submerged faces of marine-terminating glaciers is a key contributor to the glacial mass budget via direct thermodynamic ablation and the impact of ablation on calving. This study considers the behavior of turbulent plumes of buoyant meltwater in a stratified ocean, generated by melting of either near-vertical calving faces or sloping ice shelves. We build insight by applying a turbulent plume model to describe melting of a locally planar region of ice face in a linearly stratified ocean, in a regime where subglacial discharge is insignificant. The plumes rise until becoming neutrally buoyant, before intruding into the ocean background. For strong stratifications, we obtain leading-order scaling laws for the flow including the height reached by the plume before intrusion, and the melt rate, expressed in terms of the background ocean temperature and salinity stratifications. These scaling laws provide a new perspective for parameterizing glacial melting in response to a piecewise-linear discretization of the ocean stratification.

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