Assessing the subglacial lake coverage of Antarctica


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Sebastian.Goeller [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

Lakes beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet are known to decrease traction at the ice base and therefore can have a great impact on ice dynamics. However, the total extent of Antarctic subglacial lakes is still unknown. We address this issue by combining modeling and remote-sensing strategies to predict potential lake locations using the general hydraulic potential equation. We are able to reproduce the majority of known lakes, as well as predict the existence of many new and so far undetected potential lakes. To validate our predictions, we analyzed ice-penetrating radar profiles from radio-echo sounding flights acquired over 1994–2013 in Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica, and this led to the identification of 31 new subglacial lakes. Based on these findings, we estimate the total number of Antarctic subglacial lakes to be ~1300, a factor of three higher than the total number of lakes discovered to date. We estimate that only ~30% of all Antarctic subglacial lakes and ~65% of the total estimated lake-covered area have been discovered, and that lakes account for 0.6% of the Antarctic ice/bed interface.



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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Published
Eprint ID
41923
DOI 10.1017/aog.2016.23

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Goeller, S. , Steinhage, D. , Thoma, M. and Grosfeld, K. (2016): Assessing the subglacial lake coverage of Antarctica , Annals of Glaciology, 57 (72), pp. 109-117 . doi: 10.1017/aog.2016.23


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