Understanding the Integrity of Deep Ice in Antarctica from Geophysical Data Sets and Physical Models

Lead PI: Timothy Creyts , Dr. Indrani Das

Unit Affiliation: Marine and Polar Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

March 2017 - February 2022
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This award supports a project to better understand the processes that occur both on and within the Antarctic ice sheet and which can create disruptions in the stratigraphy and potentially confound the interpretation of paleoclimate signals in deep ice cores. The project will use existing radar data, as well as process-based modeling, to understand the basal thermal characteristics of the ice sheet, as well as the folding, and depositional history which occur at the surface of the ice sheet. Specifically, an existing dataset from East Antarctic will be used to extract layer information and characteristics of near-bed processes in order to aid in the evaluation of potential old ice sites for future deep ice core drilling. The intellectual merit of the work is that it will contribute to helping to find locations where oldest ice can be found and will advance understanding of the deep ice and the processes that affect its preservation. The broader impacts relate to developing a better understanding of past climate as well as training and education of undergraduates in geophysical techniques that extend beyond the classroom. The work will be included in public outreach programs already underway at Lamont-Doherty. The main goals of the research are to use geophysical data to inform physical models of deep ice processes and to understand how deep ice stratigraphy becomes uninterpretable and where pristine ice could be found. The investigators will interpret existing geophysical datasets over broad areas of East Antarctica to identify deep continuous stratigraphy as well as deformed layers. The work will contribute to developing physical models of mechanics, thermodynamics, and processes occurring along the base and in the deep ice. The models will be process-oriented focusing on system behaviors with the intention of mapping those processes to back to the ice sheet. The research will focus on the Dome A area in central East Antarctica, but will spread from there, utilizing other datasets in the South Pole area and high altitude, low accumulation areas. The project fills a community need for more information on the integrity of the deep and old ice sheet stratigraphy. Two early career scientists, a postdoctoral scientist, and several undergraduate assistants will be funded through this project. This project does not require fieldwork in the Antarctic.


National Science Foundation (NSF)






A.G. Stubblefield, T.T. Creyts. "Modeling oscillations in connected glacial lakes" None , v.65 , 2019 https://doi.org/10.1017/

Hewitt, Ian J. and Creyts, Timothy T. "A Model for the Formation of Eskers" Geophysical Research Letters , v.46 , 2019 10.1029/2019GL082304

Meyer, Colin R. and Creyts, Timothy T. "Formation of ice eddies in subglacial mountain valleys: SUBGLACIAL ICE EDDIES" Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface , v.122 , 2017 10.1002/2017JF004329 C

Winter, A. and "Age stratigraphy in the East Antarctic Ice Sheet inferred from radio-echo sounding horizons" Earth system science data , v.11 , 2019 https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-11-1069-2019

Das, Indrani E. and Padman, Laurie A. and Bell, Robin J. and Fricker, Helen L. and Tinto, Kirsty S. and Hulbe, Christina P. and Siddoway, Christine Isabel and Dhakal, Tejendra R. and Frearson, Nicholas and Mosbeux, Cyrille and Cordero, S. and Siegfried, M "Multidecadal Basal Melt Rates and Structure of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, Using Airborne Ice Penetrating Radar" Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface , v.125 , 2020 10.1029/2019JF005241


ice sheets ice cores deep ice paleoclimate


Modeling and Adapting to Future Climate