Geophysical exploration of a West Antarctic subglacial lake

Lead Research Organisation: Northumbria University
Department Name: Fac of Engineering and Environment

Abstract

Antarctic subglacial lakes are expected to contain unique microbial lifeforms and detailed records of past climate change. Examination of these contents requires in-situ measurement, which can only take place once a lake has been characterised fully by geophysical methods. Of the 101 known subglacial lakes in Antarctica none have been measured to the level required for meaningful direct sampling to take place. This proposal aims to undertake a comprehensive geophysical exploration of a 10 km ong subglacial lake in West Antarctica (near the Ellsworth Mountains). Data analysis and modelling will be undertaken at the University of Bristol, the British Antarctic Survey and Northumbria University.Ice thickness will be determined from ice-penetrating radar, water depths will be found using seismic exploration, and ice flow and accumulation will be obtained from direct surface measurements. A series of numerical models will be used to understand the history of the lake, the flow of ice across the lake and the circulation of water within the lake.Data visualisation will be undertaken in conjunction with Dr. Martin Jakobsson (collaborator). The result of the project will be the first fully characterised subglacial lake environment and the establishment of a candidate for future in-situ analysis.
 
Description We have performed the most detailed geophysical characterisation of an Antarctic subglacial lake.
Exploitation Route There are over 400 lakes in Antarctica - our work demonstrates how each of them can be best examined from the ice surface
Sectors Environment

 
Description Inaugural Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lots of questions from the public

Emails and twitter questions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=AwrBT.E48QNWo04AaNhXNyoA;_ylc=X1MDMjc2NjY3OQRfcgMyBGZyA3lzZXRfY...
 
Description Pint of Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Many questions from the public about my talk

Emails, and social media contact, from the public about my talk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://pintofscience.co.uk/event/undiscovered-origins/
 
Description Plenary Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The talk provoked many questions on subglacial lake exploration, from which several contacts have been made.

The Korean Antarctic programme met with Siegert in August as a direct consequence of hearing the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.isaes2015goa.in/speakers.php
 
Description Royal Society Meeting on Subglacial Lake Exploration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International dialogue on the future of Antarctic subglacial lake exploration.
Article in Eos on the findings of the workshop.
A white paper detailing the 20 year future for subglacial lake exploration, fed to the Antarctic Roadmap Challenge to integrate with other long-term plans for exploration.
A Royal Society book to document progress and plans.

A high degree of community shared knowledge.
A meeting with the Korean Antarctic Programme on subglacial exploration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://royalsociety.org/events/2015/03/subglacial-antarctic-lakes/
 
Description Science Uncovered 2016 - exploration of East Antarctica 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The ICECAP2 programme ran a exhibit at the Natural History Museum's Science Uncovered event, London, 30 September 2016. The audience was in the 1000s, and come from the public, academic, policy and businesses.
The exhibit demonstrated how polar exploration is undertaken, what the results are and how they are important for understanding sea level change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/whats-on/programs/nhm/science_uncovered_2016.html?date=30.09.2016