Shape effect on solid melting in flowing liquid

Rui Yang*, Christopher J. Howland, Hao Ran Liu, Roberto Verzicco, Detlef Lohse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Iceberg melting is a critical factor for climate change. However, the shape of an iceberg is an often neglected aspect of its melting process. Our study investigates the influence of different ice shapes and ambient flow velocities on melt rates by conducting direct numerical simulations of a simplified system of bluff body flow. Our study focuses on the ellipsoidal shape, with the aspect ratio as the control parameter. We found the shape plays a crucial role in the melting process, resulting in significant variations in the melt rate between different shapes. Without flow, the optimal shape for a minimal melt rate is the disk (two-dimensional) or sphere (three-dimensional), due to the minimal surface area. However, as the ambient flow velocity increases, the optimal shape changes with the aspect ratio. We find that ice with an elliptical shape (when the long axis is aligned with the flow direction) can melt up to 10% slower than a circular shape when exposed to flowing water. Following the approach considered by Huang et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 765, 2015, R3) for dissolving bodies, we provide a quantitative theoretical explanation for this optimal shape, based on the combined contributions from both surface-area effects and convective-heat-transfer effects. Our findings provide insight into the interplay between phase transitions and ambient flows, contributing to our understanding of the iceberg melting process and highlighting the need to consider the aspect-ratio effect in estimates of iceberg melt rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberR1
JournalJournal of fluid mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2024


  • sea ice
  • solidification/melting
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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