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A fourth inventory of Antarctic subglacial lakes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 July 2012

Andrew Wright*
School of GeoSciences, Drummond Street, University of Edinburgh, EdinburghEH8 9XP, UK
Martin Siegert
School of GeoSciences, Drummond Street, University of Edinburgh, EdinburghEH8 9XP, UK


Antarctic subglacial lakes are studied for three main scientific reasons. First, they form an important component of the basal hydrological system which is known to affect the dynamics of the ice sheet. Second, they are amongst the most extreme viable habitats on Earth and third, if sediments exist on their floors, they may contain high-resolution records of ice sheet history. Here we present a new inventory of locations, dimensions and data sources for 379 subglacial lakes. Several major advances are responsible for the rise in the total number of lakes from the 145 known at the time of the last inventory in 2005. New radar datasets have been collected in previously unexplored regions of the ice sheet while digital data collection and processing techniques have allowed improvements to lake identification methods. Satellite measurements of ice surface elevation change caused by the movement of subglacial water have also been found to be widespread in Antarctica, often in places where radar data are absent. These advances have changed our appreciation of the Antarctic subglacial environment and have expanded our understanding of the behaviour of subglacial lakes.

Physical Sciences
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2012

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