Motion of glaciers

The main goal of this research is to model the three-dimensional motion of a glacier. Given the shape of the glacier, a nonlinear Stokes problem has to be solved. The shape of the glacier is then solved using a lagrangian Volume of Fluid formulation.

This project is a collaboration with Heinz Blatter Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETHZ and With Martin Funk Wasserbau/Hydrologie/Glaziologie, ETHZ.

Ice is a very viscous fluid. The simulation of ice flow can therefore be achieved with cfsFlow, in order to determine the evolution of alpine glaciers. Equations of fluid dynamics take into account the dynamics of the ice flow on the bed rock, as well as the sliding of the ice on the mountain rock. The model used in cfsFlow incorporates state-of-the-art models for the ice physics and rheology, and efficient and accurate numerical algorithms for the simulation of alpine glaciers.

The behavior of alpine glaciers greatly depends on the underlying climate model, in particular on radiation data, temperatures, precipitations, and bed rock topology. cfsFlow is able to incorporate in a flexible manner various mass balance models to determine ice melt and snow addition (accumulation and ablation).

Starting with the bed rock topography in terms of altitudes of grid points, and from measurements for the ice surface at a given time, one can construct an approximation of the ice mass. We define the physical laws governing the ice flow and determine if the glacier slides on and sticks to the bedrock. The mass balance definition alows to incorporate many climatic effects in existing mass balance models, through the definition of grids. Mass balance models with various complexity levels can be used.

Example : The Rhone glacier evolution in a median climatic scenario from 2007 to 2100.


Recent Publications

G. Jouvet; M. Huss; M. Funk; H. Blatter : Modelling the retreat of Grosser Aletschgletscher, Switzerland, in a changing climate; Journal Of Glaciology. 2011.
G. Jouvet; M. Picasso; J. Rappaz; M. Huss; M. Funk : Modelling and Numerical Simulation of the Dynamics of Glaciers Including Local Damage Effects; Mathematical Modelling Of Natural Phenomena. 2011. DOI : 10.1051/mmnp/20116510.
G. Jouvet; J. Rappaz; E. Bueler; H. Blatter : Existence and stability of steady-state solutions of the shallow-ice-sheet equation by an energy-minimization approach; Journal Of Glaciology. 2011.
G. Jouvet / J. Rappaz; M. Picasso (Dir.) : Modélisation, analyse mathématique et simulation numérique de la dynamique des glaciers. Lausanne, EPFL, 2010. DOI : 10.5075/epfl-thesis-4677.
G. Jouvet; M. Huss; H. Blatter; M. Picasso; J. Rappaz : Numerical simulation of Rhonegletscher from 1874 to 2100; Journal Of Computational Physics. 2009. DOI : 10.1016/
G. Jouvet; M. Picasso; J. Rappaz; H. Blatter : A new algorithm to simulate the dynamics of a glacier: theory and applications; Journal Of Glaciology. 2008. DOI : 10.3189/002214308787780049.
V. Tyagi / C. Wellekens (Dir.) : Novel speech processing techniques for robust automatic speech recognition. Lausanne, EPFL, 2006. DOI : 10.5075/epfl-thesis-3637.