Dynamics of ice-shelf ocean cavities

Our work on high-latitude ocean environments aims to address the overarching questions:
How quickly are ice shelves melting?
How quickly will ice shelves melt under climate change scenarios?

Both questions are tough science questions, which we need to address to increase our confidence in Earth’s climate projections. Ice shelf melting impacts the global ocean circulation because it modifies deep water production. It also impacts sea levels as thinner ice shelves typically allow for faster grounded ice discharge into the sea.

We tackle multiple bottlenecks and knowledge gaps impairing our ability to address these questions using different approaches. First, we use high resolution simulations to unravel the dynamics of ice-ocean interfaces and correctly parameterize ice melt as a function of ocean conditions. Second, we derive and discover from data reduced-order models of ice-shelf ocean cavities that enable systematic investigations of the effect of key large-scale physical processes on the long-term fate of ice shelves and deep water production.

You can find more information on this work by visiting the MIMOP webpage. More details will also be provided below soon.

Dynamics of subglacial lakes and subsurface water lenses

Our work on subglacial and isolated aquatic environments aims to address the overarching question:
Are the physical conditions of extraterrestrial, subglacial, aquatic environments conducive to life?

This question is paramount to astrobiology research. Subglacial aquatic environments, which are expected to exist on numerous icy moons (Enceladus, Europa) and possibly beneath Mars’ polar ice cap, are the most likely places to have (have had) extraterrestrial life forms in the solar system. Subglacial aquatic environments are very different from open oceans and surface lakes. They are isolated from winds and solar radiations, yet can maintain vigorous flows thanks to geothermal heating and interfacial temperature gradients controlled by the cavity geometry.

We tackle this question using high-resolution simulations of subglacial aquatic systems to unravel their multi-scale dynamics. Current systems under investigation are inspired by subglacial lakes on Earth, which are the terrestrial analogues of subglacial aquatic environments on icy moons. Terrestrial subglacial lakes are somewhat accessible (more so than icy moons!) such that near-future field explorations (led by collaborators) will provide means to challenge our predictions.

More details on this work will be provided below soon.