Report

Widespread Persistent Thickening of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet by Freezing from the Base

Science  03 Mar 2011:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1200109

Abstract

An International Polar Year aerogeophysical investigation of the high interior of East Antarctica reveals widespread freeze-on that drives significant mass redistribution at the bottom of the ice sheet. While surface accumulation of snow remains the primary mechanism for ice sheet growth, beneath Dome A 24% of the base by area is frozen-on ice. In some places, up to half the ice thickness has been added from below. These ice packages result from conductive cooling of water ponded near the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountain ridges and supercooling of water forced up steep valley walls. Persistent freeze-on thickens the ice column, alters basal ice rheology and fabric and upwarps the overlying ice sheet, including the oldest atmospheric climate archive, and drives flow behavior not captured in present models.