Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
The Cryosphere, 4, 447–452, 2010
The Cryosphere, 4, 447–452, 2010

Research article 18 Oct 2010

Research article | 18 Oct 2010

A comparison of basal reflectivity and ice velocity in East Antarctica

R. W. Jacobel1, K. E. Lapo1, J. R. Stamp1, B. W. Youngblood1, B. C. Welch1, and J. L. Bamber2 R. W. Jacobel et al.
  • 1Department of Physics, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, 55057, USA
  • 2School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1SS, UK

Abstract. Ground-based radio echo sounding data acquired along the 1700 km US-ITASE traverse have been used to determine ice attenuation and relative basal reflectivity across the major catchments funneling ice from East Antarctica to the Ross Ice Shelf. We find that basal reflectivity varies locally by up to 40 dB which we interpret as due to changes in the phase state at the bed. Some, though not all, areas of high local reflectivity are observed to have flat-lying bed reflections indicative of sub-glacial lakes. We compare basal reflectivity to ice balance velocity and find a general association of higher flow speeds with high radar reflection strength. This set of observations from two independent remotely sensed geophysical data sets extends the range of field observations to the interior of East Antarctica and confirms the importance of basal lubrication on modulating the ice dynamics of the largest ice sheet on the planet.