Simulation of convection at a vertical ice face dissolving into saline water

Bishakhdatta Gayen*, Ross W. Griffiths, Ross C. Kerr

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)


    We investigate the convection and dissolution rate generated when a wall of ice dissolves into seawater under Antarctic Ocean conditions. In direct numerical simulations three coupled interface equations are used to solve for interface temperature, salinity and ablation velocity, along with the boundary layer flow and transport. The main focus is on ambient water temperatures between and and salinities around 35Â ‰, where diffusion of salt to the ice-water interface depresses the freezing point and enhances heat diffusion to the ice. We show that fluxes of both heat and salt to the interface are significant in governing the dissolution of ice, and the ablation velocity agrees well with experiments and a recent theoretical prediction. The same turbulent flow dynamics and ablation rate are expected to apply at any depth in a deeper ocean water column (after choosing the relevant pressure coefficient for the liquidus temperature). At Grashof numbers currently accessible by direct numerical simulation, turbulence is generated both directly from buoyancy flux and from shear production in the buoyancy-driven boundary layer flow, whereas shear production by the convective flow is expected to be more important at geophysical scales. The momentum balance in the boundary layer is dominated by buoyancy forcing and wall stress, with the latter characterised by a large drag coefficient.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)284-298
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2016


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