IPY Research: Investigating the Cryospheric Evolution of the Central Antarctic Plate (ICECAP)
This project is an aerogeophysical survey to explore unknown terrain in East Antarctica to answer questions of climate change and earth science. The methods include ice-penetrating radar, gravity, and magnetic measurements. The project?s main goal is to investigate the stability and migration of ice divides that guide flow of the East Antarctic ice sheet, the world?s largest. The project also maps ice accumulation over the last interglacial, identifies subglacial lakes, and characterizes the catchment basins of the very largest glacial basins, including Wilkes and Aurora. The outcomes contribute to ice sheet models relevant to understanding sea level rise in a warming world. The work will also help understand the regional geology. Buried beneath miles-thick ice, East Antarctica is virtually uncharacterized, but is considered a keystone for tectonic reconstructions and other geologic questions. The region also hosts subglacial lakes, whose geologic histories are unknown.
The broader impacts are extensive, and include societal relevance for understanding sea level rise, outreach in various forms, and education at the K12 through postdoctoral levels. The project contributes to the International Polar Year (2007-2009) by addressing key IPY themes on frontiers in polar exploration and climate change. It also includes extensive international collaboration with the United Kingdom, Australia, France and other nations; and offers explicit opportunities for early career scientists.
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