What applied geophysics in glaciology can contribute to earth system research

Olaf.Eisen [ at ] awi.de


Land ice masses interact with the geosystem in manifold ways. The flow of ice is controlled by processes occurring at their surface, base and by the spatial variation of rheological properties within the ice. Numerical models are routinely employed to understand and reproduce the flow of ice and the interaction with other spheres. However, models substantially rely on a number of simplyfing assumptions. Despite - partly also because of - the increasing sophistication of models in-situ observations are necessary to reduce the number and fix values of free parameters controlling flow. The most direct way to obtain in-situ properties within the ice is drilling ice cores. However, this is a labour intensive expensive task, which only provides information for a single point, albeit in very high resolution. Active geophysical methods, in contrast, are employed from above the ice surface, thus enableing to cover larger areas in a comparably short amount of time. Laterally imaging the layer architecture of ice sheets yields complementary information to the direct evidence of physical properties otherwise solely provided by ice cores. This talk gives an overview of the state of the art applied geophysics in glaciology, with an emphasis on active seismic and electromagnetic sounding methods. It is shown how these methods provide insights into the distribution of physical properties, stratigraphy and structure. Moreover, they provide detailed insights into subglacial conditions, from which paleo conditions of ice interacting with the ocean and underlying strata can be retrieved.

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Conference (Invited talk)
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Geoscience Seminars, University of Tübingen.
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Eisen, O. (2013): What applied geophysics in glaciology can contribute to earth system research , Geoscience Seminars, University of Tübingen .

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