Geothermal heat flow in Antarctica: Current and future directions

Antarctic geothermal heat flow (GHF) affects the temperature of the ice sheet, determining its ability to slide and internally deform, as well as the behaviour of the continental crust. However, GHF remains poorly constrained, with few and sparse local, borehole-derived estimates and large discrepancies in the magnitude and distribution of existing continent-scale estimates from geophysical models. We review the methods to estimate GHF, discussing the strengths and limitations of each approach; compile borehole and probe-derived estimates from measured temperature profiles; and recommend the following future directions. (1) Obtain more borehole-derived estimates from the subglacial bedrock and englacial temperature profiles. (2) Estimate GHF from inverse glaciological modelling, constrained by evidence for basal melting and englacial temperatures (e.g. using microwave emissivity). (3) Revise geophysically derived GHF estimates using a combination of Curie depth, seismic, and thermal isostasy models. (4) Integrate in these geophysical approaches a more accurate model of the structure and distribution of heat production elements within the crust and considering heterogeneities in the underlying mantle. (5) Continue international interdisciplinary communication and data access.


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Authors: Burton-Johnson, Alex ORCIDORCID record for Alex Burton-Johnson, Dziadek, Ricarda, Martin, Carlos ORCIDORCID record for Carlos Martin

On this site: Alex Burton-Johnson, Carlos Martin Garcia
10 November, 2020
The Cryosphere / 14
31pp / 3843-3873
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