University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > British Antarctic Survey - Director's Choice > Using radar to measure and monitor the rate of melting at the base of ice shelves

Using radar to measure and monitor the rate of melting at the base of ice shelves

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In recent years the idea that the drainage of ice from the Antarctic Ice Sheet into the ocean can be affected by changes in the ice shelves that fringe the continent has become widely accepted. For the majority of Antarctic ice shelves, the most likely cause of long-term change is the response to a changing oceanographic environment of the rate and pattern of basal melting. To have confidence in our predictions of the future evolution of the ice sheet we need to be able to make detailed measurements of ice-shelf basal melting to help test ideas about its dependence on ocean conditions. In this talk I will describe a radar-based technique that has been developed to measure time-averaged basal melt rates directly, and a recent extension to allow the monitoring of melt rates on timescales down to hours. I will describe the development of the instrument, its extension to the glaciological problem of measuring vertical strain rates directly, and show some results from recent Antarctic field seasons that demonstrate the power of the technique. I’ll conclude with a discussion of what the future holds for further developments.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Director's Choice series.

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