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Volume 12, issue 8 | Copyright

Special issue: Oldest Ice: finding and interpreting climate proxies in ice...

The Cryosphere, 12, 2773-2787, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-2773-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 30 Aug 2018

Research article | 30 Aug 2018

Promising Oldest Ice sites in East Antarctica based on thermodynamical modelling

Brice Van Liefferinge1, Frank Pattyn1, Marie G. P. Cavitte2,3, Nanna B. Karlsson4,a, Duncan A. Young2, Johannes Sutter4,5, and Olaf Eisen4,6 Brice Van Liefferinge et al.
  • 1Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Université libre de Bruxelles, CP 160/03, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
  • 2Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
  • 3Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
  • 4Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 5Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 6Department of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • anow at: Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Oster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract. To resolve the mechanisms behind the major climate reorganisation, which occurred between 0.9 and 1.2Ma, the recovery of a suitable 1.5 million-year-old ice core is fundamental. The quest for an Oldest Ice core requires a number of key boundary conditions, of which the poorly known basal geothermal heat flux (GHF) is lacking. We use a transient thermodynamical 1-D vertical model that solves for the rate of change of temperature in the vertical, with surface temperature and modelled GHF as boundary conditions. For each point on the ice sheet, the model is forced with variations in atmospheric conditions over the last 2Ma and modelled ice-thickness variations. The process is repeated for a range of GHF values to determine the value of GHF that marks the limit between frozen and melting conditions over the whole ice sheet, taking into account 2Ma of climate history. These threshold values of GHF are statistically compared to existing GHF data sets. The new probabilistic GHF fields obtained for the ice sheet thus provide the missing boundary conditions in the search for Oldest Ice. High spatial resolution radar data are examined locally in the Dome Fuji and Dome C regions, as these represent the ice core community's primary drilling sites. GHF, bedrock variability, ice thickness and other essential criteria combined highlight a dozen major potential Oldest Ice sites in the vicinity of Dome Fuji and Dome C, where GHF could allow for Oldest Ice.

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Our paper provides an important review of the state of knowledge for oldest-ice prospection, but also adds new basal geothermal heat flux constraints from recently acquired high-definition radar data sets. This is the first paper to contrast the two primary target regions for oldest ice: Dome C and Dome Fuji. Moreover, we provide statistical comparisons of all available data sets and a summary of the community's criteria for the retrieval of interpretable oldest ice since the 2013 effort.
Our paper provides an important review of the state of knowledge for oldest-ice prospection, but...
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