Earth Institute Research Projects

Subglacial Lakes and the Onset of Ice Streaming: Recovery Lakes

Lead PI: Dr. Robin E. Bell , Michael Studinger

Unit Affiliation: Marine Geology & Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

November 2008 - October 2012
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The research will examine how subglacial lakes trigger faster ice streaming by using satellite imagery, aerogeophysical profiles, and continuous GPS sites. This will: enable the production of velocity fields; allow mapping of the ice thickness changes due to acceleration triggered thinning, basal melting, and freezing; determine the depth and tectonic orgin of the Recovery Lakes; and determine the stability of these lakes over time.

OUTCOMES: Found: that Recovery Lakes C and D contain very little water; the tectonic framework likely plays a major role in the lake's water budget abd basal lubrication of the ice stream; a gravity low, smooth bed, and deep source of magnetic anomalies suggest the presence of 1-3km of sediments beneath Lakes C and D; and that fill times for the lakes depends on if water is diverted by the Gamburtsev Mountains.


National Science Foundation (NSF)





Ferraccioli, Fausto; Finn, Carol A.; Jordan, Tom A.; Bell, Robin E.; Anderson, Lester M.; Damaske, Detlef. "East Antarctic rifting triggers uplift of the Gamburtsev Mountains," NATURE, v.479, 2011, p. 388-U139.

Das, I; Bell, R.E.; Scambos, T; Wolovick, M; Creyts, T; Studinger, M; Frearson, N; Nicolas, J; Lenaerts, J.T.M.; van den Broeke, M.R.. "Influence of persistent wind-scour on the surface mass balance of Antartica.," Nature GeoScience, v.10, 2013, p. 1038.


ice flows ocean and climate physics subglacial water subglacial lakes recovery ice stream ice sheets aerogeophysical profiles


Earth fundamentals