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During the past 20 years, multi-channel radar emerged as a key tool for deciphering an ice sheet's internal architecture. To assign ages to radar reflections and connect them over large areas in the ice sheet, the layer genesis has to be understood on a microphysical scale. Synthetic radar trace modelling based on the dielectric profile of ice cores allows for the assignation of observed physical properties’ variations on the decimetre scale to radar reflectors extending from the coring site to a regional or even whole-ice-sheet scale. In this paper we rely on the available dielectric profiling data of the northern Greenland deep ice cores: NGRIP, NEEM and EGRIP. The three records are well suited for assigning an age model to the stratigraphic radar-mapped layers, and linking up the reflector properties to observations in the cores. Our modelling results show that the internal reflections are mainly due to conductivity changes. Furthermore, we deduce fabric characteristics at the EGRIP drill site from two-way-travel-time differences of along and across-flow polarized radarwave reflections of selected horizons (below 980 m). These indicate in deeper parts of the ice column an across-flow concentrated c-axis fabric.
The internal stratigraphy of snow and ice as imaged by ground-penetrating radar may serve as a source of information on past accumulation. This study presents results from two ground-based radar surveys conducted in Greenland in 2007 and 2015, respectively. The first survey was conducted during the traverse from the ice-core station NGRIP (North Greenland Ice Core Project) to the ice-core station NEEM (North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling). The second survey was carried out during the traverse from NEEM to the ice-core station EGRIP (East Greenland Ice Core Project) and then onwards to Summit Station. The total length of the radar profiles is 1427 km. From the radar data, we retrieve the large-scale spatial variation of the accumulation rates in the interior of the ice sheet. The accumulation rates range from 0.11 to 0.26 m a−1 ice equivalent with the lowest values found in the northeastern sector towards EGRIP. We find no evidence of temporal or spatial changes in accumulation rates when comparing the 150-year average accumulation rates with the 321-year average accumulation rates. Comparisons with regional climate models reveal that the models underestimate accumulation rates by up to 35% in northeastern Greenland. Our results serve as a robust baseline to detect present changes in either surface accumulation rates or patterns.
Basal motion of ice sheets depends in part on the roughness and material properties of the subglacial bed and the occurrence of water. To date, basal motion represents one of the largest uncertainties in ice-flow models. It is that component of the total flow velocity that can change most rapidly and can, therefore, facilitate rapid variations in dynamic behaviour. In this study, we investigate the subglacial properties of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet by statistically analysing the roughness of the bed topography, inferred from radio-echo sounding measurements. We analyse two sets of roughness parameters, one derived in the spatial and the other in the spectral domain, with two roughness parameters each. This enables us to compare the suitability of the four roughness parameters to classify the subglacial landscapes below the ice sheet. We further investigate the relationship of the roughness parameters with observed surface flow velocity and modelled basal temperatures of the ice sheet. We find that one of the roughness parameters, the Hurst exponent derived in the spatial domain, coincides with the thermal condition at the base of the ice sheet for slow flow velocities and varies with flow velocity.
The Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS) is an important dynamic component for the total mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, as it reaches up to the central divide and drains 12% of the ice sheet. The geometric boundary conditions and in particular the nature of the subglacial bed of the NEGIS are essential to understand its ice flow dynamics. We present a record of more than 8000 km of radar survey lines of multi-channel, ultra-wideband radio echo sounding data covering an area of 24 000 km2, centered on the drill site for the East Greenland Ice-core Project (EGRIP), in the upper part of the NEGIS catchment. Our data yield a new detailed model of ice-thickness distribution and basal topography in the region. The enhanced resolution of our bed topography model shows features which we interpret to be caused by erosional activity, potentially over several glacial–interglacial cycles. Off-nadir reflections from the ice–bed interface in the center of the ice stream indicate a streamlined bed with elongated subglacial landforms. Our new bed topography model will help to improve the basal boundary conditions of NEGIS prescribed for ice flow models and thus foster an improved understanding of the ice-dynamic setting.
Lakes beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet are known to decrease traction at the ice base and therefore can have a great impact on ice dynamics. However, the total extent of Antarctic subglacial lakes is still unknown. We address this issue by combining modeling and remote-sensing strategies to predict potential lake locations using the general hydraulic potential equation. We are able to reproduce the majority of known lakes, as well as predict the existence of many new and so far undetected potential lakes. To validate our predictions, we analyzed ice-penetrating radar profiles from radio-echo sounding flights acquired over 1994–2013 in Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica, and this led to the identification of 31 new subglacial lakes. Based on these findings, we estimate the total number of Antarctic subglacial lakes to be ~1300, a factor of three higher than the total number of lakes discovered to date. We estimate that only ~30% of all Antarctic subglacial lakes and ~65% of the total estimated lake-covered area have been discovered, and that lakes account for 0.6% of the Antarctic ice/bed interface.
To understand the dynamics of ice shelves, a knowledge of their internal and basal structure is very important. As the capacity to perform local surveys is limited, remote sensing provides an opportunity to obtain the relevant information. We must prove, however, that the relevant information can be obtained from remote sensing of the surface. That is the aim of this study. The Jelbart Ice Shelf, Antarctica, exhibits a variety of surface structures appearing as stripe-like features in radar imagery. We performed an airborne geophysical survey across these features and compared the results to TerraSAR-X imagery. We find that the stripe-like structures indicate surface troughs coinciding with the location of basal channels and crevasse-like features, revealed by radio-echo sounding. HH and VV polarizations do not show different magnitude. In surface troughs, the local accumulation rate is larger than at the flat surface. Viscoelastic modelling is used to gain an understanding of the surface undulations and their origin. The surface displacement, computed with a Maxwell model, matches the observed surface reasonably well. Our simulations show that the surface troughs develop over decadal to centennial timescales.
We present a comprehensive approach (including field data, remote sensing and an anisotropic ice-flow model) to characterize Halvfarryggen ice dome in coastal Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. This is a potential drill site for the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences, which has identified the need for ice cores covering atmospheric conditions during the last few millennia. We derive the surface topography, the ice stratigraphy from radar data, and accumulation rates which vary from 400 to 1670 kg m−2 a−1 due to preferred wind directions and changing surface slope. The stratigraphy shows anticlines and synclines beneath the divides. We transfer Dansgaard–Johnsen age–depth scales from the flanks along isochrones to the divide in the upper 20–50% of the ice thickness and show that they compare well with the results of a full-Stokes, anisotropic ice-flow model which predicts (1) 11 ka BP ice at 90% of the ice thickness, (2) a temporally stable divide for at least 2700–4500 years, (3) basal temperatures below the melting point (−12°C to −5°C) and (4) a highly developed crystal orientation fabric (COF). We suggest drilling into the apices of the deep anticlines, providing a good compromise between record length and temporal resolution and also facilitating studies of the interplay of anisotropic COF and ice flow.
This study aims to demonstrate that deep ice cores can be synchronized using internal horizons in the ice between the drill sites revealed by airborne radio-echo sounding (RES) over a distance of >1000km, despite significant variations in glaciological parameters, such as accumulation rate between the sites. In 2002/03 a profile between the Kohnen station and Dome Fuji deep ice-core drill sites, Antarctica, was completed using airborne RES. The survey reveals several continuous internal horizons in the RES section over a length of 1217 km. The layers allow direct comparison of the deep ice cores drilled at the two stations. In particular, the counterpart of a visible layer observed in the Kohnen station (EDML) ice core at 1054 m depth has been identified in the Dome Fuji ice core at 575 m depth using internal RES horizons. Thus the two ice cores can be synchronized, i.e. the ice at 1560 m depth (at the bottom of the 2003 EDML drilling) is ∼49ka old according to the Dome Fuji age/depth scale, using the traced internal layers presented in this study.
We characterize the basal mass balance of the Ekström Ice Shelf, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, using interferometrically derived surface velocities and ice thickness measurements from radio-echo sounding (RES). The surface velocities are based on data from European Remote-sensing Satellites-1 and -2 (ERS-1/2) during 1994–97. The ice thickness grid consists of 136 RES profiles acquired between 1996 and 2006. Mass fluxes are calculated along selected RES profiles where possible, to reduce uncertainties from ice thickness interpolation. Elsewhere large-scale mass fluxes are calculated using interpolated ice thickness data. Themass flux into the Ekström Ice Shelf from the main grounded drainage basins is estimated to be 3.19±0.4Gt a–1. The mass flux near the ice shelf front is 2.67±0.3Gt a–1. Assuming steady state, and based on the equation of continuity, we interpret the residual mass flux as a combined effect of snow accumulation and subglacial melting/refreezing. Using net snow accumulation rates from previous studies, we link the mass flux divergence in irregular-shaped polygons to processes beneath the ice shelf. The highest subglacial melt rates of ~1.1ma–1 are found near the grounding zone of two main inflow glaciers, and around the German station Neumayer III. The detection of unlikely refreezing in a small area ~15 km west of Neumayer III is attributed to both dataset inaccuracies and a (possibly past) violation of the steady-state assumption. In general, the method and input data allow mapping of the spatial distribution of basal melting and the results are in good agreement with several previous studies.
We used internal ice layers from a radio-echo sounding profile between the Kohnen and Dome Fuji deep drilling sites to infer the spatio-temporal pattern of accumulation rate in this sector of Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica. Continuous internal reflection horizons can be traced to about half of the ice thickness and have a maximum age of approximately 72.7 ka BP. To infer palaeo-accumulation rates from the dated layers, we derived the thinning functions from a flow calculation with a high-resolution higher-order model of Dronning Maud Land embedded into a three-dimensional thermomechanical model of the Antarctic ice sheet. The method takes into account complex ice-flow dynamics and advection effects that cannot be dealt with using traditional local approaches. We selected seven time intervals over which we determine the average accumulation rate and average surface temperature at the place and time of origin of the layer particles. Our results show lower accumulation rates along eastern parts of the profile for the late Holocene (0–5 ka BP) than are shown by existing maps, which had no surface control points. During the last glacial period we find a substantially lower accumulation rate than predicted by the usual approach linking palaeo-accumulation rates to the condensation temperature above the surface inversion layer. These findings were used to fine-tune the relation between accumulation rate and temperature.
We investigate snowpack properties at a site in west-central Greenland with ground-penetrating radar (GPR), supplemented by stratigraphic records from snow pits and shallow firn cores. GPR data were collected at a validation test site for CryoSat (T05 on the Expéditions Glaciologiques Internationales au Groenland (EGIG) line) over a 100 m × 100 m grid and along 1 km sections at frequencies of 500 and 800 MHz. Several internal reflection horizons (IRHs) down to a depth of 10 m were tracked. IRHs are usually related to ice-layer clusters in vertically bounded sequences that obtain their initial characteristics near the surface during the melt season. Warm conditions in the following melt season can change these characteristics by percolating meltwater. In cold conditions, smaller melt volumes at the surface can lead to faint IRHs. The absence of simple mechanisms for internal layer origin emphasizes the need for independent dating to reliably interpret remotely sensed radar data. Our GPR-derived depth of the 2003 summer surface of 1.48 m (measured in 2004) is confirmed by snow-pit observations. The distribution of IRH depths on a 1 km scale reveals a gradient of increasing accumulation to the northeast of about 5 cm w.e. km−1. We find that point measurements of accumulation in this area are representative only over several hundred metres, with uncertainties of about 15% of the spatial mean.
Spatio-temporal variations of the recently determined accumulation rate are investigated using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) measurements and firn-core studies. The study area is located on Ritscherflya in western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, at an elevation range 1400–1560 m. Accumulation rates are derived from internal reflection horizons (IRHs), tracked with GPR, which are connected to a dated firn core. GPR-derived internal layer depths show small relief along a 22 km profile on an ice flowline. Average accumulation rates are about 190 kg m−2 a−1 (1980–2005) with spatial variability (1σ) of 5% along the GPR profile. The interannual variability obtained from four dated firn cores is one order of magnitude higher, showing 1σ standard deviations around 30%. Mean temporal variations of GPRderived accumulation rates are of the same magnitude or even higher than spatial variations. Temporal differences between 1980–90 and 1990–2005, obtained from two dated IRHs along the GPR profile, indicate temporally non-stationary processes, linked to spatial variations. Comparison with similarly obtained accumulation data from another coastal area in central Dronning Maud Land confirms this observation. Our results contribute to understanding spatio-temporal variations of the accumulation processes, necessary for the validation of satellite data (e.g. altimetry studies and gravity missions such as Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE)).
The accumulation rate on Potsdam Glacier, East Antarctica, and its spatial and temporal variations are examined using ground-penetrating radar, snow samples and firn-core studies. Physical properties in snow samples and along firn cores provide distributions of density with depth, showing only small spatial variation. Counting of peaks in δ18O along the firn cores yields an age–depth distribution that is transferred to the stratigraphy of isochronal internal layers observed with radar. From two radar horizons we determine the spatial accumulation pattern, averaged over the periods 1970–80 and 1980–2004. The shape of internal layers indicates an ablation area at the eastern margin of the investigation area. Accumulation rates show a very high spatial variability, with a mean value of 141 kgm–2 a–1 for the period 1970–2004 and a standard deviation of almost 50%. Mean temporal variation of only a few per cent throughout the investigated area for the observed time interval is much less than the spatial variations. The mean accumulation values are somewhat less than values reported before from this region. Accumulation pattern and surface topography are linked in a way indicating that wind-borne redistribution of snow significantly contributes to the observed spatial variations of accumulation rates. The accumulation data and their variability complement and validate present and future satellite studies of Antarctica’s mass balance.
Interpretation of ice-core records requires accurate knowledge of the past and present surface topography and stress–strain fields. The European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) drilling site (75.0025° S, 0.0684° E; 2891.7 m) in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, is located in the immediate vicinity of a transient and forking ice divide. A digital elevation model is determined from the combination of kinematic GPS measurements with the GLAS12 datasets from the ICESat. Based on a network of stakes, surveyed with static GPS, the velocity field around the drilling site is calculated. The annual mean velocity magnitude of 12 survey points amounts to 0.74 m a–1. Flow directions mainly vary according to their distance from the ice divide. Surface strain rates are determined from a pentagonshaped stake network with one center point close to the drilling site. The strain field is characterized by along-flow compression, lateral dilatation and vertical layer thinning.
Extensive observations on Nivlisen, an ice shelf on Antarctica’s Atlantic coast, are analyzed and combined to obtain a new description of its complex glaciological regime. We generate models of ice thickness (primarily from ground-penetrating radar), ellipsoidal ice surface height (primarily from ERS-1 satellite altimetry), freeboard height (by utilizing precise sea surface information) and ice-flow velocity (from ERS-1/-2 SAR interferometry and GPS measurements). Accuracy assessments are included. Exploiting the hydrostatic equilibrium relation, we infer the ‘apparent air layer thickness’ as a useful measure for a glacier’s density deviation from a pure ice body. This parameter exhibits a distinct spatial variation (ranging from ≈2 to ≈16m) which we attribute to the transition from an ablation area to an accumulation area. We compute mass-flux and mass-balance parameters on a local and areally integrated scale. The combined effect of bottom mass balance and temporal change averaged over an essential part of Nivlisen is –654 ± 170 kg m–2 a–1, which suggests bottom melting processes dominate. We discuss our results in view of temporal ice-mass changes (including remarks on historical observations), basal processes, near-surface processes and ice-flow dynamical features. The question of temporal changes remains open from the data at hand, and we recommend further observations and analyses for its solution.
We present a technique that modifies and extends down-hole target methods to provide absolute measures of uncertainty in radar-reflector depth of origin. We use ice-core profiles to model wave propagation and reflection, and then cross-correlate the model results with radio-echo sounding (RES) data to identify the depth of reflector events. Stacked traces recorded with RES near the EPICA drill site in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, provide reference radargrams, and dielectric properties along the deep ice core form the input data to a forward model of wave propagation that produces synthetic radargrams. Cross-correlations between synthetic and RES radargrams identify differences in propagation wave speed. They are attributed to uncertainties in pure-ice permittivity and are used for calibration. Removing conductivity peaks results in the disappearance of related synthetic reflections and enables the unambiguous relation of electric signatures to RES features. We find that (i) density measurements with g-attenuation or dielectric profiling are too noisy below the firn–ice transition to allow clear identification of reflections, (ii) single conductivity peaks less than 0.5 m wide cause the majority of prominent reflections beyond a travel time of about 10 µs (~900m depth) and (iii) some closely spaced conductivity peaks within a range of 1–2m cannot be resolved within the RES or synthetic data. Our results provide a depth accuracy to allow synchronization of age–depth profiles of ice cores by RES, modeling of isochronous internal structures, and determination of wave speed and of pure-ice properties. The technique successfully operates with dielectric profiling and electrical conductivity measurements, suggesting that it can be applied at other ice cores and drill sites.
During the summer of 2003, a ground-penetrating radar survey around the North Greenland Icecore Project (NorthGRIP) deep ice-core drilling site (75˚06’N, 42˚20’W; 2957ma.s.l.) was carried out using a shielded 250 MHz radar system. The drill site is located on an ice divide, roughly 300 km north-northwest of the summit of the Greenland ice sheet. More than 430 km of profiles were measured, covering a 10 km by 10 km area, with a grid centered on the drilling location, and eight profiles extending beyond this grid. Seven internal horizons within the upper 120 m of the ice sheet were continuously tracked, containing the last 400 years of accumulation history. Based on the age-depth and density-depth distribution of the deep core, the internal layers have been dated and the regional and temporal distribution of accumulation rate in the vicinity of NorthGRIP has been derived. The distribution of accumulation shows a relatively smoothly increasing trend from east to west from 145 kgm–2a–1 to 200 kg m–2 a -1 over a distance of 50 km across the ice divide. The general trend is overlain by small-scale variations on the order of 2.5 kgm–2a-1 km- 1 , i.e. around 1.5% of the accumulation mean. The temporal variations of the seven periods defined by the seven tracked isochrones are on the order of ± 4% of the mean of the last 400 years, i.e. at NorthGRIP ± 7 kg m–2 a-1. If the regional accumulation pattern has been stable for the last several thousand years during the Holocene, and ice flow has been comparable to today, advective effects along the particle trajectory upstream of NorthGRIP do not have a significant effect on the interpretation of climatically induced changes in accumulation rates derived from the deep ice core over the last 10 kyr.
This paper presents a new compilation of gridded datasets for three-dimensional modelling of the Antarctic ice sheet. These are for surface elevation, ice thickness, bedrock elevation and accumulation rate as interpolated on a 281 × 281 mesh with 20 km spacing, and encompass all the ice sheet and surrounding continental shelf. Data sources include the Bamber digital-elevation model from ERS-1 radar-altimeter data, a redigitization of available ice-thickness data, the Giovinetto accumulation data, recent ice-thickness data from British and German expeditions as well as accumulation data from German and Norwegian expeditions. In particular, new data were incorporated for the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf and for Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, arising from the EPICA pre-site survey. Special attention was devoted to matching the various data sources carefully, both among themselves and across the grounding line and below the ice shelves, to enable ice-sheet expansion and retreat in dynamic situations. As an application, the balance flow is calculated over the entire ice sheet using a two-dimensional finite-difference scheme and compared with a previous assessment. This brought to light the existence of ice-streaming features extending well inland. A detailed zoom over Dronning Maud Land exhibits the general flow characteristics of interest for locating a future deep-drilling site. As a by-product, an updated value of 26.4 × 106km3 was obtained for the total volume of the ice sheet and ice shelves, or equivalent to 61.1 m of global sea-level rise after removal of the ice sheet and subsequent oceanic invasion and isostatic rebound. The total accumulation over the grounded ice sheet, including the Antarctic Peninsula, is 1924 Gta−1, or between 5 and 20% higher than earlier estimates. Including all the ice shelves, the value is 2344 Gt a−1.
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