Collaborative Research: Grounding Line Forensics: The History of Grounding Line Retreat in the Kamb Ice Stream Outlet Region
This award supports a project to identify and map ice surface and internal features that chronicle the sequence of events leading to the shut-down of Kamb ice stream. In particular, the project will study past grounding line migration and the relationship between that process and ice stream shutdown. The intellectual merits of the project include the fact that an understanding of such processes has important implications for our ability to accurately predict mass balance changes in this region. Currently, one of the five major West Antarctic ice streams, Kamb, is quiescent, and another, Whillans, is slowing in its downstream reaches. The Kamb shutdown appears to have begun at its downstream end but beyond that simple observation, it is not possible, yet, to draw meaningful comparisons between the two adjacent streams. We do not know if current events on Whillans Ice Stream are similar to what transpired during the Kamb shut-down. The work proposed here intends to bridge that gap. It is expected that this effort will yield useful insights into the influence of grounding line dynamics on ice stream flow. The work will involve a combination of field investigations using radio-echo sounding and GPS combined with computational efforts involving the interpretation of ice-surface features such as relict flow traces and crevasses. The broader impacts of the project will be in addressing a global environmental problem with critical societal implications, training the next generation of scientists and engineers to serve the nation, and encouraging women to pursue scientific or engineering careers. Participants from both institutions are involved in a range of public outreach activities.
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