Convection in the Antarctic Ice Sheet Leading to a Surge of the Ice Sheet and Possibly to a New Ice Age

Science  06 Nov 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3958, pp. 630-633
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3958.630


The Antarctic surge theory of Pleistocene glaciation is reexamined in the context of thermal convection theory applied to the Antarctic ice sheet. The ice sheet surges when a water layer at the base of the ice sheet reaches the edge of the ice sheet over broad fronts and has a thickness sufficient to drown the projections from the bed that most strongly hinder basal ice flow. Frictional heat from convection flow promotes basal melting, and, as the ice sheet grows to the continental shelf of Antarctica, a surge of the ice sheet appears likely.