Convergent flow of ice within the Astrolabe subglacial basin, Terre Adélie, East Antarctica: an hypothesis derived from numerical modelling experiments
AbstractThe existence of a large subglacial lake beneath the antarctic Ice Sheet at Terre Adélie indicates the presence of basal ice at its pressure-melting temperature. A numerical model of the ice-sheet thermal regime is employed using the balance velocity of the ice sheet as an initial model input in order to calculate ice-sheet basal temperatures. However, the results from this model show the Terre Adélie area to be characterised by basal freezing. Heat in addition to that accounted for in the model is thus required at the ice-sheet base in order for pressure melting temperatures to be attained. The sources for such heat are (1) an enhanced geothermal heat flux and (2) an increase in frictional heating caused by the flow of ice. In this paper the latter possibility is expanded by hypothesising that subglacial topography induces convergent ice flow around Terre Adélie, causing enhanced basal ice velocities. Model experiments indicate that an increase in ice velocity (from 7 to at least 42 m yr?1) is required to raise the temperature of the basal ice to the pressure melting value. Increased ice velocity, and consequent frictional heat production due to convergent ice flow, may therefore be important in explaining the location of the subglacial lake in this region. These results allow the process of convergent ice flow within a contemporary ice sheet to be quantified. A verification (or otherwise) of the model results may be possible if ice surface velocity measurements from modem GPS methods are made.
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