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The roots of glaciology were initially high up in the mountains, walking on glaciers to observe, describe and measure in the field those objects which have forever fascinated and, in early days, sometimes frightened mankind. Microscopic details and properties of the material ice were not at first glance the main preoccupation of the pioneers of glaciology. In other words, glaciology was not “iceology”, even so “glace” means “ice” in French.
However, as science moved on, it became clearer and clearer that a detailed knowledge of ice physics and mechanics from the atomic scale is an essential step towards an understanding of glaciers, ice sheets, or sea ice. Indeed, dislocation motion and ice microstructure control the flow of glaciers, metamorphism processes at the snow crystal scale the properties of a snow cover, and the physics of ice fracture the evolution of Arctic sea ice.
To bridge the microstructural scale to geophysical scales was one of the purpose of the MicroDICE Conference “Ice deformation: from the model material to ice in natural environments” which was held in Grenoble on 7-9 November 2011 at the MINATEC center, sponsored by the Micro-DICE project of the European Science Foundation, and with administrative support of the IGS. This symposium was also the occasion to honor Paul Duval, Emeritus “Directeur de Recherche” at the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement”. During his career, Paul became a world leading scientist on the physics of ice deformation. But, beyond his fundamental advances on creep and recrystallisation of the material ice, Paul always tried to analyze the consequences of such micro-scale mechanisms on the large scale behavior of glaciers, ice sheets, or even icy moons. In that sense, the Micro-DICE conference, with its great diversity of topics, was in a perfect agreement with the Paul’s contribution to glaciology and material science.
The conference brought together about 85 scientists from 17 countries all around the world, presenting keynote lectures or recent advances on subjects as various as ice sheet flow, sea ice fracturing, recrystallization processes in ice, icy moons, snow structure, ice cream physics, and more. Beyond “glaciology”, presentations on collective dislocation dynamics, recrystallization in metals, or crack growth in heterogeneous media, stressed the role of ice as a model material to tackle various fundamental problems in material science, a role recognized by Paul Duval for a long time.
In addition to these various communications, the perfect organization created a friendly atmosphere during breaks and lunches, allowing everybody to exchange and discuss around a (French !) glass of wine and a piece of local cheese ! This way, this MicroDICE conference confirmed that ice physics, mechanics and glaciology is more than ever an “hot” topic that can learn from, but also teach to other fields of physics and geophysics.

Jérôme Weiss, December 12th, 2011

Organizing Committee:     Maurine Montagnat, Denis Samyn, Jens Rößiger, Paul Bons, Martyn Drury.
Scientific Committee:     Maurine Montagnat, Olivier Castelnau, Denis Samyn, Paul Bons

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Financial support:     main support from ESF, secondary support from IGS, CNRS, UJF-Grenoble I, METRO, Ville de Grenoble.

Picture gallery (click to enlarge)