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Subglacial hydrological networks in Antarctica and their impact on ice flow

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Deep beneath the thick ice cover of the Antarctic continent there exist subglacial hydrological networks, within which basal meltwater can flow. In this paper, we use surface elevation data from European Remote-sensing Satellite radar altimetry to map these subglacial hydrological networks for the whole continent. We observe a confused pattern of subglacial systems, linking regions where basal melting takes place. In some regions, channels can be followed over some hundreds of kilometres. Some of these meet the ice-sheet margin, suggesting that meltwater can be transported all the way to the ocean. We observe an east–west gradient in the distribution of hydrological networks that could be explained by the geothermal flux pattern.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2004

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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