Ice Sheet Model


In this module, we create and explore a simple ice sheet model based on a classic paper by Johannes Weertman, from 1976.  Our goals are to understand some basic things about how these ice sheets grow and shrink, and how they can respond to sunlight variations caused by orbital changes of the Earth relative to the Sun.

Large continental ice sheets such as Greenland (at right) are important components of the global climate system that play a critical role in altering the planetary albedo, which is connected to a potent positive feedback mechanism, and also in controlling the level of global sea level.

Their growth and decline has been one of the dominant features of the Pleistocene ice ages, and their current decline is of great importance to the rising global sea level.  The timing of the ice ages and intervening warmer periods are largely controlled by orbital changes, and one of the goals of this modeling exercise is to see how this works.

Suggested Experiments (pdf)  this contains links to a pre-made STELLA model and a web-based version that can be run without a STELLA license.