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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2019-03-28 16:45:09
    • Article ID: 710419

    Ice Sheet Modeling Probes Antarctic Vulnerabilities

    BISICLES tool uses NERSC to explore how changes in Antarctic Ice Sheet could contribute to sea level rise

    • The BISICLES ice sheet modeling tool was featured on the February 2019 cover of Geophysical Research Letters.

    • The BISICLES ice sheet model gives researchers insight into potential ice-shelf loss in each of the Antarctic Ice Sheet's 14 sectors.

    The biggest uncertainty in end-of-the-century sea level rise comes from the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS), the miles-thick, continent-sized polar ice mass that covers the South Pole. However, current earth system models struggle to account for events unfolding in the Antarctic region—the coupling between the evolving earth system and the ice sheet is complex and difficult to fully implement in models.

    To address this, a team of scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Swansea University (UK), and the University of Bristol (UK) collaborated to create an ice sheet modeling tool that uses high performance computing resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Berkeley Lab to systematically examine where the AIS is vulnerable and the resulting potential for large contributions to sea level rise.

    The modeling tool — the BISICLES ice sheet model — has enabled the first fully resolved, systematic study of millennial-scale ice sheet response to regional ice shelf collapse (Millennial-scale Vulnerability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to Regional Ice Shelf Collapse). While high‐resolution projections have been performed for localized Antarctic regions, full‐continent simulations have until now been limited to low‐resolution models. Key to the accuracy of the BISICLES tool’s ability to quantify the vulnerability of the entire present‐day AIS is adaptive mesh refinement (AMR). AMR dynamically places high resolution specifically where the ice sheet is changing most rapidly. Using AMR to locally deploy fine resolution allows researchers to focus on the small regions that control the overall evolution of the AIS, like fast-moving ice streams, retreating edges and the point at which ice sheets transition from grounded ice to floating ice shelves (called grounding lines) — features that migrate over continental scales.

    To get the right answer, we need to resolve the areas where there’s the most activity at a very high (sub-kilometer) resolution, but we can’t resolve all of Antarctica at that level of resolution because of the huge computational expense that would require,” said Dan Martin, a computational scientist and group leader of the Applied Numerical Algorithms Group in the Lab’s Computational Research Division and a co-developer of BISICLES. “With AMR, we can deploy high resolution only where we need it, so as the ice sheet evolves, you can automatically change where that resolution goes.” AMR is a technique that has been developed at Berkeley Lab over the last 25 years and used to enable efficient and accurate simulations across a wide range of applications. BISICLES is implemented in Chombo, one of the resulting software frameworks.

    Antarctic ice flows in relatively fast-moving ice streams from the interior to the ocean, where it is carried into enormous floating ice shelves that push back on their feeder ice streams, buttressing them and slowing their flow. Scientists have observed that the weakening or loss of these ice shelves can result in faster-moving ice, which causes thinning and retreat as more ice is delivered to the ocean from the land. To better understand where the AIS is vulnerable to ice-shelf loss, the researchers divided it into 14 sectors, corresponding to the large-scale Antarctic drainage basins. They then applied extreme thinning rates to each sector's floating ice shelves in turn while running the high-resolution BISICLES ice flow model 1,000 years into the future for each case. The greatest vulnerability came from attacking any of the three ice shelves connected to the part of West Antarctica, where much of the ice sits on bedrock that lies below sea level. Each of those dramatic responses contributed more than 2m to global sea levels after 1000 years. The second level of response came from four other sectors, each with a contribution between 0.5-1m. The remaining sectors produced little to no contribution.

    BISICLES has been in development since 2009, and is currently part of the DOE SCIDAC-funded ProSPect application partnership, which aims to improve sea-level projections by bringing a wide range of DOE expertise to bear. Beyond the DOE, researchers all over the world are using BISICLES in their modeling efforts.

    “What allowed us to accomplish this work, which entailed an unprecedented 35,000 years of high-resolution full-continent simulations, is the combination of AMR and access to NERSC,” says Martin. “While each of our NERSC runs is not that big in supercomputing terms, each simulation would still have taken 10 years on a desktop computer—we’ve used more than a million CPU hours on NERSC’s Edison supercomputer.”

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

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    Denisov Leads High Energy Physics at Brookhaven

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    Versatile physics leader Stefan Gerhardt elected an APS fellow

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    Department of Energy Office of Science and NNSA Award $3.5 Million for High Energy Density Plasma Research

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    Department of Energy Announces $21.4 Million for Quantum Information Science Research

    Department of Energy Announces $21.4 Million for Quantum Information Science Research

    The following news release was issued on Aug. 26, 2019 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). It announces funding that DOE has awarded for research in quantum information science related to particle physics and fusion energy sciences. Scientists at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory are principal investigators on two of the 21 funded projects.

    Top names in artificial intelligence in Chicago 2019 Innovation XLab Artificial Intelligence (AI) Summit

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    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    In breast cancer screening, an imaging technique based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening tool alongside mammography to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. Now, a team is hoping to improve this imaging technique.

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

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    Even Hard Materials Have Soft Spots

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    The Achilles Heel of "metallic glasses" is that while they are strong materials--even stronger than conventional steels--they are also very brittle. The initial failures tend to be localized and catastrophic. This is due to their random amorphous (versus ordered crystalline) atomic structure. Computer simulations revealed that the structure is not completely random, however, and that there are some regions in the structure that are relatively weak. Defects nucleate more easily in these regions, which can lead to failure. This understanding of the mechanical properties has led to a strategy for making the material stronger and less brittle.

    2-D Atoms Do the Twist

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    In the study, scientists demonstrated, for the first time, an intrinsically rotating form of motion for the atoms in a crystal. The observations were on collective excitations of a single molecular layer of tungsten diselenide. Whether the rotation is clockwise or counter-clockwise depends on the wave's propagation direction.

    Location, Location, Location... How charge placement can control a self-assembled structure

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    Cracking in Harsh Environments Needs Stress and Corrosion, But Not at the Same Time

    Cracking in Harsh Environments Needs Stress and Corrosion, But Not at the Same Time

    Alloys (metals combining two or more metallic elements) are typically stronger and less susceptible to cracking than pure metals. Yet when alloys are subjected to stress and a harsh chemical environment, the alloy can fail. The reason? Cracks caused by corrosion.

    Simultaneous Clean and Repair

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    Scientists have developed a novel and efficient approach to surface cleaning, materials transport, and repair.

    Where Does Salt in the Amazon Air Come From?

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    Tiny particles of sodium salt float in the air over the pristine Amazon basin. Why? The only explanation before now has been that winds blow marine particles hundreds of miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. An international team of scientists used chemical imaging and atmospheric models to prove otherwise.

    Testing the Toughness of Microbial Cell Walls

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    Microbial cells contain biological material that can be important for research or industrial use, such as DNA or proteins. Yet, reaching this cellular material can be a challenge.

    How Many Copies Does It Take to Change a Trait?

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    New research shows that the number of copies of genes in a poplar tree affects its traits. Scientists developed a group of poplar trees in which different plants have DNA segments that are repeated or deleted.


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