Inferring geothermal heat flux from englacial temperatures in East Antarctica

Syed Abdul Salam1, Jacqueline Halpin1, Felicity Graham1, Jason Roberts2

1Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Australia, 2CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems, Hobart, Australia

Geothermal heat flux (GHF) supplied to the base of the Antarctic ice sheet strongly controls its internal temperature distribution. GHF is, therefore, a critical thermal boundary condition in ice sheet modeling directly influencing the deformability of ice and ice-flow velocities. Accurate and high-resolution GHF measurements are necessary to reliably predict ice sheet evolution and future climate change. But, GHF datasets used in ice sheet models are poorly constrained by actual measurements. Here, we use englacial temperature measurements to estimate GHF for key regions in East Antarctica. The attenuation rate of radar reflections is greatly affected by the temperature within the ice sheet and its chemical properties. Spectral analysis of the radar reflectors through the ice sheet will be employed to constrain radar attenuation, which will then be used as a proxy for ice temperature. The GHF can be inferred from the gradient of englacial temperatures and thickness of the ice. Here we will describe the different methods used to extract the attenuation of reflections from radar datasets, which will enable us to map englacial temperature distributions and produce high-resolution GHF estimates.

 

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