The climatic record from Greenland boreholes is likely to extend well beyond the last interglacial only if the basal ice near the drilling sites has never reached its pressure melting point (−2°C). A simplified one-dimensional analysis (Paterson and Waddington, 1986) suggested that this would be true at Crête, Greenland, if the geothermal flux was less than 48 mW m−2. In that study, the vertical velocity pattern for an isothermal ice sheet was used. We have repeated the Crête calculations using the vertical velocity pattern derived by a finite element analysis. Using this temperature-dependent velocity pattern lowered the basal temperature by about 3°C.
We have carried out a similar analysis for the Summit coring site further north on the Greenland ice divide. Here we find that the basal ice does not melt if the geothermal flux is less than 54 mW m−2, using the same mass balance and surface temperature histories as the previous study. We are repeating these one-dimensional calculations with more recently compiled histories and plan to present results from a full two-dimensional temperature model that includes processes only parameterized in the one-dimensional models. Using two dimensions, we will more realistically incorporate the special ice-flow patterns found at divides (e.g. Raymond, 1983; Dahl-Jensen, 1989). In steady-state flow models these patterns lead to significant horizontal temperature gradients and a “hot spot” beneath an ice divide (Paterson and Waddington, 1986). In addition, we will more accurately determine the transient effects on basal temperature resulting from the interaction of these flow patterns and the changing climate. Our discussion will include sensitivity to geothermal heat flux, ice thickness and paleoenvironmental history.