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Widespread persistent thickening of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet by freezing from the base

By Robin E. Bell, Fausto Ferraccioli, Timothy T. Creyts, David Braaten, Hugh Corr, Indrani Das, Detlef Damaske, Nicholas Frearson, Thomas Jordan, Kathryn Rose, Michael Studinger and Michael Wolovick


An International Polar Year aerogeophysical investigation of the high interior of East Antarctica reveals widespread freeze-on that drives substantial mass redistribution at the bottom of the ice sheet. Although the 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 of the ice thickness has been added from below. These ice packages result from the conductive cooling of water ponded near the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountain ridges and the 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

Topics: Meteorology and Climatology, Glaciology
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1126/science.1200109
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