Revealing the geothermal heat flux of the Antarctic continent

Yasmina M Martos1,2, Manuel Catalan3, Tom A Jordan4, Alexander Golynsky5, Dmitry Golynsky5, Graeme Eagles6

1NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, United States, 2University of Maryland, College Park, United States, 3Royal Observatory of the Spanish Navy, San Fernando, Spain, 4British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 5The All-Russia Scientific Research Institute for Geology and Mineral Resources of the Ocean, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 6Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany

Antarctica is the largest reservoir of ice on Earth and it contains around 70% of the world’s fresh water. Understanding its ice sheet dynamics is crucial to unraveling past global climate change and making robust climatic and sea level predictions. Of the basic parameters that shape and control ice flow, the most poorly known is geothermal heat flux. Direct observations of heat flux are difficult to obtain in Antarctica, and until now continent-wide heat flux maps have only been derived from low-resolution satellite magnetic and seismological data. We present the most advanced geothermal heat flux model and associated uncertainty derived from spectral analysis of the latest continental compilation of airborne magnetic data. Small-scale spatial variability and features consistent with known geology are better reproduced than in previous models, between 36% and 50%. Our results have the potential to contribute to more realistic and precise studies of subglacial hydrology distribution, improved ice‐core site selection, and enhance ice-sheet and sea-level modeling to better reconstruct past and predict future changes.


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