A numerical ice sheet model was used in a first test towards evaluating the hypothesis that, during a period of large-scale glaciation, an ice shelf emanating from the Barents/Kara Seas grounded across parts of the Lomonosov Ridge to a depth of around 1000 m below present sea level (Jakobsson, 1999; Polyak et al., 2001). Despite that we not include complex ice shelf physics or grounding line mechanics in our model and treat the process of marine melting in a simple manner, our experiments are the necessary first steps toward providing a comprehensive reconstruction of the former ice-sheet/ice-shelf system in the Arctic Ocean. A series of model runs was performed where ice shelf mass balance and ice shelf strain per unit time (strain rate) were adjusted. The mass balance and shelf ice strain rate are the key model parameters that govern the flux of ice into the Arctic Ocean. Grounding on the Lomonosov Ridge was not modeled when the ice shelf strain rate was 0.005 year-1 (i.e. a free flowing ice shelf). Even with low rates (<10 cm/year) of basal melting, the ice shelf thickness was always less than 100 m over the central part of the ridge. Our experiment suggests that grounding on the Lomonosov Ridge by a free-flowing ice shelf is not possible. When the strain rate in the shelf ice was reduced to zero, however, the shelf thickness increased substantially. Such conditions are likely only to have occurred during periods of large-scale glaciation if substantial stagnant and thickened sea ice was present in the ocean, buttressing the ice shelf flowing from the Barents Sea. A comprehensive study using a coupled icesheet/ shelf/sea-ice model would build on these preliminary results and have the potential to further constrain the history of circum-Arctic Ocean ice sheets.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

International Conference on Arctic Margins



Conference Date

Sep 30 - Oct 3, 2003

Publisher Place

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Document Type

Conference Proceeding