Rendiconti Lincei

, Volume 27, Supplement 1, pp 173–182 | Cite as

A numerical algorithm for the assessment of the conjecture of a subglacial lake tested at Amundsenisen, Svalbard

  • Daniela Mansutti
  • Edoardo Bucchignani
  • Piotr Glowacki
Environmental Changes in Arctic


The melting of glaciers coming with climate change threatens the heritage of the last glaciation of Europe likely contained in subglacial lakes in Greenland and Svalbard. This aspect urges specialists to focus their studies (theoretical, numerical, and on-field) on such fascinating objects. Along this line, we have approached the validation of the conjecture of the existence of a subglacial lake beneath the Amundsenisen Plateau at South-Spitzbergen, Svalbard, where ground penetrating radar measurements have revealed several flat signal spots, the sign of the presence of a body of water. The whole investigation aspects, mathematical modeling and numerical simulation procedure, and the numerical results are presented through a trilogy of papers of which the present one is the last. The time-dependent mathematical model in the background of the numerical algorithm includes the description of dynamics and thermodynamics of the icefield and of the subglacial lake, with heat exchange and liquid/solid phase-change mechanisms at the interface. Critical modeling choices and confidence in the algorithm are granted by the numerical results of the sensitivity analysis versus the contribution of ice water content, of firn and snow layers at top of the icefield and versus the approximation of ice sliding on bedrock. The two previous papers deal with these issues, show successful comparison with local measured quantities, and demonstrate numerically the likelihood of the subglacial lake. In this work, we aim at providing the studied case and the numerical algorithm with a possible paradigmatic value. At this aim, we introduce on-field measurement data related to the physical characteristics of the Amundsenisen Plateau that justify the adoption of significant modeling simplifications, here, focussed from physical viewpoint. Furthermore, we present the numerical algorithm and discuss several representative results from the numerical test to point out the type of results coming from the procedure. Such results might, eventually, provide a support to the decision to undertake drilling operations for tracing the subglacial water bio-chemicals generally present within the accreted ice above the presumed ice/water front.


Temperate ice Glen’s law Subglacial lake Phase-change Large Eddy Simulation Svalbard Finite volume 



The authors acknowledge the ESF-ERANET Polar Climate Consortium for funding the transnational project SvalGlac—Sensitivity of Svalbard Glaciers to Climate Change (2010–2013); presented results are part of its accomplishments. In particular, the national agencies supporting the authors are the following: Piano Nazionale Ricerca Antartide (PNRA) (Mansutti) and Narodowe Centrum Badań i Rozwoju National (NCBiR) (Glowacki). Moreover, Mansutti wants to thank Prof. J. Jania (University of Silesia) and Prof. L. Kolondra (University of Silesia) for allowing the use of the pictures in Figs. 2 and 3 co-authored by them, and Prof. F. J. Navarro (Universidad Politecnica de Madrid) for his expert advice on glaciological issues.


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Copyright information

© Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniela Mansutti
    • 1
  • Edoardo Bucchignani
    • 2
  • Piotr Glowacki
    • 3
  1. 1.Istituto per le Applicazioni del Calcolo “M. Picone” (CNR)RomeItaly
  2. 2.Centro Italiano Ricerche AerospazialiCapuaItaly
  3. 3.Institute of GeophysicsPolish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland

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