Collaborative Research: Characterizing the Onset of Ice Stream Flow: A Ground Geophysical Field Program

Project: Research project

Project Details




This award supports a four year project to develop of better understanding the ice streams of the Ross Sea Embayment (A--F) which drain the interior West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) by rapidly moving vast quantities of ice to the calving front of the Ross Ice Shelf. The project will examine the role of these ice streams as buffers between the interior ice and the floating ice shelves. The reasons for their fast flow, the factors controlling their current grounding-line-, margin-, and head-positions are crucial to any attempt at modeling the WAIS system and predicting the future of the ice sheet. For the Antarctic ice streams of the Siple Coast, the transition from no-sliding (or all internal deformation) to motion dominated by sliding is defined as the 'onset-region'. To fully understand (and adequately model) the WAIS, this onset region must be better understood. The lateral margins of the ice streams are also a transition that need better explanation. Hypotheses on controls of the location of the onset region range from the 'purely-glaciologic' to the 'purely-geologic. Thus, to model the ice sheet accurately, the basal boundary conditions (roughness, wetness, till properties) and a good subglacial geologic map, showing the distribution, thickness, and properties of the sedimentary basins, are required. These parameters can be estimated from seismic, radar, and other geophysical methods. The transition region of ice stream D will be studied in detail with this coupled geophysical experiment. In addition, selected other locations on ice streams C & D will be made, to compare and contrast conditions with the main site on ice stream D. Site-selection for the main camp will be based on existing radar, GPS, and satellite data as well as input from the modeling community.

Effective start/end date4/1/023/31/06


  • National Science Foundation: $324,500.00


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