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Hot rocks in a cold place: high sub-glacial heat flow in East Antarctica

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journal contribution
posted on 21.06.2016 by Chris J. Carson, Sandra McLaren, Jason L. Roberts, Steven D. Boger, Donald D. Blankenship

Numerical models are the primary predictive tools for understanding the dynamic behaviour of the Antarctic ice sheet. However, a key boundary parameter, sub-glacial heat flow, remains poorly constrained. We show that variations in abundance and distribution of heat-producing elements within the Antarctic continental crust result in greater and more variable regional sub-glacial heat flows than currently assumed in ice modelling studies. Such elevated heat flows would have a fundamental effect on ice sheet behaviour and highlight that geological controls on heat flow must be considered to obtain more accurate and refined predictions of ice mass balance and sea-level change.

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