2024 ~ Present | PI Lai (the proposer) has an active research project funded by NSF to study the melting of glaciers.


The ICEMAN (Ice Management) Team addresses one of the core issues in existing sea-level rise and climate change predictive models – what is the correct glacial ice melting rate to use? Currently, the magnitudes of predicted sea level rise by different models can differ from each other by a factor of two to five times. The large uncertainties make climate adaptation and mitigation efforts difficult. Our focus here is to advance the understanding of glacial-ocean interactions via detailed laboratory experiments using state-of-the-art techniques in experimental fluid mechanics. Using the collected data, we seek to develop physics-informed and computationally efficient models to predict the impacts of melting glaciers on ocean circulations, climate, sea level rise, and biodiversity in polar regions. 


Issues Involved or Addressed

To understand the hydrodynamic interactions and their effects on heat and salt transfer between subglacial plumes and ice sheets, and to develop general predictive models for these interactions. Specifically, our team works on the following topics: 1. How does mixing between a subglacial plume and an initial smooth vertical ice face affect mass, heat, and salt transfer at the ice-seawater interface? 2. How does ice morphology (roughness), seawater density stratification, seawater turbulence, and subglacial plume source configurations affect transport processes at the ice-seawater interface? 3. Which turbulence closure models and parameterizations are needed to accurately predict mass loss from ice sheets in a typical regional ocean circulation model (e.g., MITgcm)? How does this parameterization depend on the ice geometry, density stratification, subglacial plumes and model resolution?

Methods and Technologies

  • Particle image velocimetry (PIV)
  • Laser-induced fluorescence (LIF)
  • Machine vision
  • Ocean circulation models and climate models
  • Experiment Design
  • Random jet array (RJA) for turbulence generation
  • Video Image Processing
  • Optimatization
  • Ocean circulation models
  • Data Analytics
  • Fourier and various spectral analysis methods

Academic Majors of Interest

  • ComputingComputer Science
  • EngineeringAerospace Engineering
  • EngineeringCivil Engineering
  • EngineeringMechanical Engineering
  • Physics
  • SciencesChemistry
  • SciencesEarth and Atmospheric Sciences

Preferred Interests and Preparation

Anyone who is interested in climate change, glaciology, fluid mechanics, experiments, and social-economical impacts of rising sea levels. CEE, ME, AE, ChBE, EAS: Background/interest in water resources engineering, fluid mechanics, ice physics, computational fluid dynamics, analytical modeling, optimization, machine vision, image processing etc. Phys: Thermodynamics, heat transfer, constitutive modeling of non-Newtonian fluids etc.

Meeting Schedule & Location

Meeting Location 
Mason Building Rm 2228 or Rm 2219
Meeting Day 

Team Advisors

Chris Lai
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dr. Jingfeng Wang
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering

Partner(s) and Sponsor(s)

PI Lai (the proposer) has an active research project funded by NSF to study the melting of glaciers.