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Ice motion over LakeVostok, Antarctica: constraints on inferences regarding the accreted ice

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Abstract:

Ice motion over Lake Vostok, Antarctica, is measured using repeat-pass synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) interferometry. The coverage of the lake and the com- ponents of the vector field are resolved using10 overlapping data takes from ascending and descending look directions. Seventy-day temporal baselines provide the sensitivity required to observe the range of ice motion (0–6 m a–1) over the lake and the adjacent ice sheet. It is remarkable that the scattering field remained coherent over these time separations. This is critical for interferometric analysis and can be attributed to the low surface accumulation and low air temperature at this elevation. The regional flow of the ice sheet around Lake Vostok is from west to east, perpendicular to the surface elevation contours. As the ice flows past the grounding line, a southward component of motion develops that is correlated with the north–south surface slope along the length of the lake. The surface velocity increases slowly from the northern tip of the lake and then more rapidly south of 77°S. At Vostok station, the ice motion is 4.2 m a –1. Across the lake and away from boundary effects, the down-lake flow pattern takes on a parabolic profile with maximum velocity close to the center line of the lake. The overall influence of the subglacial lake is the addition of a down-lake motion component to the prevailing west–east motion of the ice sheet. As a result, we estimate10% of the mass flowing onto the lake is diverted south. Reconstructions based on the Vostok ice core indicate that the ice was grounded up-glacier from the core site approximately 5000 years ago. This suggests a minimum freezing rate of 40 mm a–1for the subglacial accretion ice,10 times greater than that inferred from thermodynamic modeling of the upper 2 km of the ice core.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/172756500781832710

Publication date: 2000-12-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.

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