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Implementation and Performance of Adaptive Mesh Refinement in the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM v4.14)

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This paper is available in a repository.

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Accurate projections of the evolution of ice sheets in a changing climate require a fine mesh/grid resolution to correctly capture fundamental physical processes, such as the evolution of the grounding line, the region where grounded ice starts to float. The evolution of the grounding line indeed plays a major role in ice sheet dynamics, as it is a fundamental control on marine ice sheet stability. Numerical modeling of grounding line requires significant computational resources since the accuracy of its position depends on grid or mesh resolution. A technique that improves accuracy with reduced computational cost is the adaptive mesh refinement approach, AMR. We present here the implementation of the AMR technique in the finite element Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM) to simulate grounding line dynamics under two different benchmarks, MISMIP3d and MISMIP+. We test different refinement criteria: (a) distance around grounding line, (b) a posteriori error estimator, the Zienkiewicz-Zhu (ZZ) error estimator, and (c) different combinations of (a) and (b). We find that for MISMIP3d setup, refining 5 km around the grounding line, both on grounded and floating ice, is sufficient to produce AMR results similar to the ones obtained with uniformly refined meshes. However, for the MISMIP+ setup, we note that there is a minimum distance of 30 km around the grounding line required to produce accurate results. We find this AMR mesh-dependency is linked to the complex bedrock topography of MISMIP+. In both benchmarks, the ZZ error estimator presents high values around the grounding line. Particularly for MISMIP+ setup, the estimator also presents high values in the grounded part of the ice sheet, following the complex shape of the bedrock geometry. This estimator helps guide the refinement procedure such that AMR performance is improved. Our results show that computational time with AMR depends on the required accuracy, but in all cases, it is significantly shorter than for uniformly refined meshes. We conclude that AMR without an associated error estimator should be avoided, especially for real glaciers that have a complex bed geometry.

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