Ice rises: key archives of de-glaciation history
at : Feb 12, 2016 17:25:43  (view:3792)

The ice sheet covering Antarctica slowly flows towards the coasts due to gravity, and when this ice reaches the coast  it often forms floating platforms of ice called ice shelves. Floating on water, the ice continues to flow away from the continent until it reaches a point  where icebergs calve off the end of it, and new ice flows in from the continent to replace the lost ice. The rate at which the ice flows determines (in part) how fast ice is lost from the continental ice sheet, which in turn has implications for global sea level rise (especially if ice is lost from the ice sheet faster than it is replaced through snowfall on the surface of the ice sheet).

However, as ice flows through the ice shelf, it can encounter islands and other bits of ocean bed that stick up from the sea floor, slowing down ice flow. The larger obstacles create ice rises - a feature that Dr Reinhard Drews from the Université Libre de Bruxelles has been studying as part of the Be:Wise project. Thanks to a 150,000 Euro grant from the InBev-Baillet Latour Antarctica Fellowship, which allowed him to take part in two field season in Antarctica (2012-13 and 2013-14), Dr. Drews has been able to study the buttressing effect of the Derwael Ice Rise on the King Baudouin Ice Shelf in East Antarctica.

However, while studying the buttressing effect of the ice rise, he and his colleagues have also been able to make a few other observations - namely what the ice rise has to tell about the de-glaciation history of that particular part of East Antarctica (Dronning Maud Land). In this interview, he explains some of the key findings of his work, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Science.