Earth Institute Research Projects

Understanding the Integrity of Deep Ice in Antarctica from Geophysical Data Sets and Physical Models

Lead PI: Timothy T Creyts , Dr. Indrani Das

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

March 2017 - February 2020
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This award supports a project to better understand the processes that occur both on and within the Antarctic ice sheet and which can create disruptions in the stratigraphy and potentially confound the interpretation of paleoclimate signals in deep ice cores. The project will use existing radar data, as well as process-based modeling, to understand the basal thermal characteristics of the ice sheet, as well as the folding, and depositional history which occur at the surface of the ice sheet. Specifically, an existing dataset from East Antarctic will be used to extract layer information and characteristics of near-bed processes in order to aid in the evaluation of potential old ice sites for future deep ice core drilling. The intellectual merit of the work is that it will contribute to helping to find locations where oldest ice can be found and will advance understanding of the deep ice and the processes that affect its preservation. The broader impacts relate to developing a better understanding of past climate as well as training and education of undergraduates in geophysical techniques that extend beyond the classroom. The work will be included in public outreach programs already underway at Lamont-Doherty. The main goals of the research are to use geophysical data to inform physical models of deep ice processes and to understand how deep ice stratigraphy becomes uninterpretable and where pristine ice could be found. The investigators will interpret existing geophysical datasets over broad areas of East Antarctica to identify deep continuous stratigraphy as well as deformed layers. The work will contribute to developing physical models of mechanics, thermodynamics, and processes occurring along the base and in the deep ice. The models will be process-oriented focusing on system behaviors with the intention of mapping those processes to back to the ice sheet. The research will focus on the Dome A area in central East Antarctica, but will spread from there, utilizing other datasets in the South Pole area and high altitude, low accumulation areas. The project fills a community need for more information on the integrity of the deep and old ice sheet stratigraphy. Two early career scientists, a postdoctoral scientist, and several undergraduate assistants will be funded through this project. This project does not require fieldwork in the Antarctic.