An accurate knowledge of the thermal properties of firn and ice within a glacier is essential for any reliable mathematical model of heat transfer. This paper considers the problem of determining the thermal properties of firn at Dome C, Antarctica, for use in such a model.
First, the difficulties in accurately determining thermal properties are discussed. Then a physical experiment which can be performed under field conditions, but which will yield a well-posed mathematical problem for determining the unknown properties, is presented. Next, two different numerical techniques for solving the mathematical problem are discussed. Finally, some numerical approximations and error estimates are presented for the results of applying our numerical procedure to data from Dome C. Although insufficient data were obtained to test our methods fully, we have established a measurement procedure and a method of analysis which appear to be promising.