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Model/Data Synthesis

Combining Radar Data and Geophysical Models to Observe and Constrain Ice-Sheet Processes

One of the greatest sources of uncertainty in projections of future sea level over policy-relevant time scales is the contribution of continental ice sheets. This is due, in large part, to unknown physics, processes, and conditions that govern ice sheet behavior and evolution, particularly during periods of unstable retreat. One of the critical processes in assessing the potential sea level contribution of continental ice sheets is the marine ice sheet instability, which suggests that the portions of ice sheets grounded below sea level may be susceptible to rapid unstable retreat. Recent results from a variety of observational and modeling studies have shown that the behavior and stability of these sectors are modulated by a combination of ocean forcing, bed topography, and basal conditions. Although ice penetrating radar can observe and constrain the basal environment, even the mostly densely surveyed regions rarely have the spatial and temporal coverage to directly map subglacial conditions and processes at the scales over which they occur. However, by jointly analyzing radar sounding data with geophysical models, we can overcome limited coverage to test geologically and glaciologically informed hypotheses and investigate ice sheet processes at scales not possible by with data alone.  These include ice-sheet, mechanical, thermal, hydrologic, oceanographic, electromagnetic, geostatistical, morphologic, and sedimentological model. Our work focuses on using these models and existing airborne radar sounding data to understand the behavior, evolution, and sea level contribution of marine ice sheets.

Related Projects

  • Characterizing the subglacial hydrology of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica using airborne radar sounding
  • Investigating bed conditions and control at the boundary between Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers, West Antarctica
  • Joint radar and model investigations of Greenland basal water conditions
  • TIME (Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution) - The Role of Shear Margin Dynamics in the Future Evolution of Thwaites Drainage Basin
  • The Basal Roughness of Ice Sheets from Radio-Echo Sounding

Related Publications