Ice core records and ice-penetrating radar data contain complementary information on glacial subsurface structure and composition, providing various opportunities for interpreting past and present environmental conditions. To exploit the full range of possible applications, accurate dating of internal radar reflection horizons and knowledge about their constituting features is required. On the basis of three ice core records from Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, and surface-based radar profiles connecting the drilling locations, we investigate the accuracies involved in transferring age-depth relationships obtained from the ice cores to continuous radar reflections. Two methods are used to date five internal reflection horizons: (1) conventional dating is carried out by converting the travel time of the tracked reflection to a single depth, which is then associated with an age at each core location, and (2) forward modeling of electromagnetic wave propagation is based on dielectric profiling of ice cores and performed to identify the depth ranges from which tracked reflections originate, yielding an age range at each drill site. Statistical analysis of all age estimates results in age uncertainties of 5 10 years for conventional dating and an error range of 1 16 years for forward modeling. For our radar operations at 200 and 250 MHz in the upper 100 m of the ice sheet, comprising some 1000 1500 years of deposition history, final age uncertainties are 8 years in favorable cases and 21 years at the limit of feasibility. About one third of the uncertainty is associated with the initial ice core dating; the remaining part is associated with radar data quality and analysis.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL6-Earth climate variability since the Pliocene