Articles | Volume 6, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 6, 1203–1219, 2012
The Cryosphere, 6, 1203–1219, 2012

Research article 24 Oct 2012

Research article | 24 Oct 2012

Radar diagnosis of the subglacial conditions in Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica

S. Fujita1, P. Holmlund2, K. Matsuoka3, H. Enomoto1,4, K. Fukui1,*, F. Nakazawa1, S. Sugiyama5, and S. Surdyk1 S. Fujita et al.
  • 1National Institute of Polar Research, Research Organization of Information and Systems, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm Sweden
  • 3Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway
  • 4Kitami Institute of Technology, Kitami, Japan
  • 5Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
  • *now at: Tateyama Caldera Sabo Museum, Toyama, Japan

Abstract. In order to better understand the spatial distribution of subglacial environments, ground-based radar profiling data were analyzed for a total distance of ~ 3300 km across Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica. The relationship between geometrically corrected bed returned power [Pcbed]dB in decibels and ice thickness H was examined. When H is smaller than a~critical value that varies according to location, [Pcbed]dB tends to decrease relatively smoothly with increasing H, which is explicable primarily by the cumulative effect of dielectric attenuation within the ice. However, at locations where H is larger than the critical H values, anomalous increases and fluctuations in [Pcbed]dB were observed, regardless of the choice of radar frequency or radar-pulse width. In addition, the amplitude of the fluctuations often range 10 ~ 20 dB. We argue that the anomalous increases are caused by higher bed reflectivity associated with the existence of subglacial water. We used these features to delineate frozen and temperate beds. Approximately two-thirds of the investigated area was found to have a temperate bed. The beds of the inland part of the ice sheet tend to be temperate, with the exception of subglacial high mountains. In contrast, the beds of coastal areas tend to be frozen, with the exception of fast-flowing ice on the subglacial lowland or troughs. We argue that this new analytical method can be applied to other regions.