Collaborative Research: Western Divide West Antarctic Ice Cores (WAISCORES) Site Selection
This award supports a program of ground-based geophysical measurements to map in detail the spatial variations of ice flow, accumulation rate, internal layering and ice thickness at the sites which have been identified as promising locations to drill the next deep ice core in West Antarctica. The main investigative tools are a high- and low-frequency ice penetrating radar to image the topography of internal layers and the bed, repeat GPS surveys to calculate the present day surface velocity field, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferometry to calculate the regional velocity field, and short firn cores to calculate present day accumulation rates. The data which will be collected will be used to as input to time-dependent ice flow and temperature models that will predict depth variation of age, layer thickness, and temperature. As well as yielding an estimate of expected conditions before drilling, the mismatch between the model prediction and data eventually recovered from the core will help infer thinning and climate (accumulation and temperature) histories for the region. The Western Divide, between the Ross Sea Embayment and the Amundsen Sea, has been identified as the region which best satisfies the criteria which have been established for a deep drilling site. Preliminary site selection using airborne geophysical methods has identified several potential drill sites on the Western Divide where the climate record should be best preserved. This work will contribute in a major way to the final site selection for the next deep ice core in West Antarctica.
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