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Ice radar investigation at Dome A, East Antarctica: Ice thickness and subglacial topography

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  • Geography
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Chinese Science Bulletin


Dome A, located in the central East Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS), is the highest summit of the Antarctic ice sheet. From ice-sheet evolution modeling results, Dome A is likely to preserve over one million years of the Earth’s paleo-climatic and -environmental records, and considered an ideal deep ice core drilling site. Ice thickness and subglacial topography are critical factors for ice-sheet models to determine the timescale and location of a deep ice core. During the 21st and 24th Chinese National Antarctic Research Expedition (CHINARE 21, 2004/05; CHINARE 24, 2007/08), ground-based ice radar systems were used to a three-dimensional investigation in the central 30 km×30 km region at Dome A. The successfully obtained high resolution and accuracy data of ice thickness and subglacial topography were then interpolated into the ice thickness distribution and subglacial topography digital elevation model (DEM) with a regular grid resolution of 140.5 m×140.5 m. The results of the ice radar investigation indicate that the average ice thickness in the Dome A central 30 km×30 km region is 2233 m, with a minimal ice thickness of 1618 m and a maximal ice thickness of 3139 m at Kunlun Station. The subglacial topography is relatively sharp, with an elevation range of 949–2445 m. The typical, clear mountain glaciation morphology is likely to reflect the early evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet. Based on the ice thickness distribution and subglacial topography characteristics, the location of Kunlun Station was suggested to carry out the first high-resolution, long time-scale deep ice core drilling. However, the internal structure and basal environments at Kunlun Station still need further research to determine.

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Correspondence to Bo Sun.

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Cui, X., Sun, B., Tian, G. et al. Ice radar investigation at Dome A, East Antarctica: Ice thickness and subglacial topography. Chin. Sci. Bull. 55, 425–431 (2010).

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