Structure and Stability of the McMurdo Ice Shelf Transition Zone and Glaciated Hillside near Scott Base, Antarctica
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER HANOVER NH HANOVER
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We used ground-penetrating radar and Global Positioning System surveys in November 2015 and January 2016 to determine ice depth and ice flow velocities of a glacier-covered hillside neighboring the Transition Zone TZ on McMurdo Ice Shelf MIS, Antarctica. We also analyzed two available high-resolution digital elevation maps to establish how surface elevations are changing across the region. These surveys were conducted to determine if the TZ Road, the primary U.S. Antarctic Program access to ice-shelf operations, can be relocated onto the hillside if it becomes unpassable in the future. The results suggest that construction and maintenance of a road on the TZ hillside would be challenging due to 1 steep slopes, 2 minimal snow and firn cover available for maintenance activities, 3 significant annual changes to the surface, and 4 substantial ice thicknesses and ice flow velocities that will alter any constructed road on an annual basis. Despite these primary findings, the observed change in ice cover both on the hillside and within the transition zone itself suggest that efforts to develop a new road should continue to help ensure long-term access and use of ice-shelf-based facilities for McMurdo and Scott Stations.
- Snow, Ice and Permafrost
- Civil Engineering
- Active and Passive Radar Detection and Equipment