Iceberg meltwater is a critical freshwater flux from the cryosphere to the oceans. Global climate simulations therefore require simple and accurate parametrizations of iceberg melting. Iceberg shape is an important but often neglected aspect of iceberg melting. Icebergs have an enormous range of shapes and sizes, and distinct processes dominate basal and side melting. We show how different iceberg aspect ratios and relative ambient water velocities affect melting using a combined experimental and numerical study. The experimental results show significant variations in melting between different iceberg faces, as well as within each iceberg face. These findings are reproduced and explained with multiphysics numerical simulations. At high relative ambient velocities melting is largest on the side facing the flow, and mixing during vortex generation causes local increases in basal melt rates of over 50%. Double-diffusive buoyancy effects become significant when the relative ambient velocity is low. Existing melting parametrizations do not reproduce our findings. We propose several corrections to capture the influence of aspect ratio on iceberg melting.
Physical Review Fluids
- Pub Date:
- February 2021
- Physics - Fluid Dynamics;
- Physics - Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics
- 16 pages, 11 figures. Compare to additional parameterisations, and propose novel parameterisation