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Geometry and thermal regime of the King George Island ice cap, Antarctica, from GPR and GPS

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King George Island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands, close to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The annual mean temperature on the island has increased by 1°C during the past three decades, and the ice cap that covers the majority of the island is sensitive to climatic change. We present data from two field campaigns (1997 and 2007): 700 km of global positioning system (GPS) and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) profiles were collected on Arctowski Icefield and on the adjacent central part. The data were analysed to determine the surface and bed topography and the thermal regime of the ice. Average ice thickness is 250 m and maximum thickness is 420 m. The GPR profiles show isochrones throughout the ice cap which depict the uparching of Raymond bumps beneath or close to the ice divides. A water table from percolation of meltwater in the snowpack shows the firn–ice boundary at ∼35 m depth. The firn layer may be temperate due to the release of latent heat. In the area below 400 m a.s.l., backscatter by water inclusions is abundant for ice depths below the water table. We interpret this as evidence for temperate ice. Scatter decreases significantly above 400 m. Ice temperatures below the water table in this part of the ice cap are subject to further field and modelling investigations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2010

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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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