23 Feb 2023
 | 23 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Stagnant ice and age modelling in the Dome C region, Antarctica

Ailsa Chung, Frédéric Parrenin, Daniel Steinhage, Robert Mulvaney, Carlos Martín, Marie G. P. Cavitte, David A. Lilien, Veit Helm, Drew Taylor, Prasad Gogineni, Catherine Ritz, Massimo Frezzotti, Charles O'Neill, Heinrich Miller, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, and Olaf Eisen

Abstract. We present a 1D numerical model which calculates the age of ice around Dome C. It accounts either for melting or for a layer of stagnant ice above the bedrock, depending on the value of an inverted mechanical ice thickness. It is constrained by horizons picked from radar observations and dated using the EPICA Dome C (EDC) ice core age profile. We used 3 different radar datasets with the widest reaching airbourne radar system covering an area of 10,000 km2 and zooming in to 5 km transects over Little Dome C (LDC) with a ground based system. We find that stagnant ice exists in many places including above the LDC relief where the new Beyond EPICA drill site (BELDC) is located. The modelled thickness of this layer of stagnant ice roughly corresponds to the thickness of the basal unit observed in one of the radar surveys and observations made with Autonomous phase-sensitive Radio-Echo Sounder (ApRES). At BELDC, the modelled stagnant ice thickness is 182 ± 63 m and the modelled maximum age (that we define as the age at a maximum age density of 20 kyr m−1) is 1.49 ± 0.18 Ma at a depth of 2505 ± 34 m. This is very similar to all sites situated on the LDC relief such as that of the Million Year Ice Core project being conducted by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). The model was also applied to radar data in the area 10–20 km north of EDC (North Patch, NP), where we find either a thin layer of stagnant ice (generally < 60 m) or a very low melt rate (< 0.1 mm yr−1). The modelled maximum age at NP is over 2 Ma in most places, with ice at 1.5 Ma having a resolution of 9–12 kyr m−1 , making it an exciting prospect for a future oldest ice drill site.

Ailsa Chung et al.

Status: open (until 20 Apr 2023)

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Ailsa Chung et al.


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Short summary
We combined a numerical model with radar measurements in order to determine the age of ice in the Dome C region of Antarctica. Our results show that at the current ice core drilling site on Little Dome C, the maximum age of the ice is around 1.5 Ma. We also highlight a new potential drill site called North Patch with ice up to 2 Ma. Finally, we explore the nature of a stagnant ice layer at the base of the ice sheet which has been independently observed and modelled but is not well understood.