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Distribution of ice thickness and subglacial topography of the “Chinese Wall” around Kunlun Station, East Antarctica

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As fundamental parameters of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, ice thickness and subglacial topography are critical factors for studying the basal conditions and mass balance in Antarctica. During CHINARE 24 (the 24th Chinese National Antarctic Research Expedition, 2007/08), the research team used a deep ice-penetrating radar system to measure the ice thickness and subglacial topography of the “Chinese Wall” around Kunlun Station, East Antarctica. Preliminary results show that the ice thickness varies mostly from 1600 m to 2800 m along the “Chinese Wall”, with the thickest ice being 3444 m, and the thinnest ice 1255 m. The average bedrock elevation is 1722 m, while the minimum is just 604 m. Compared with the northern side of the ice divide, the ice thickness is a little greater and the subglacial topography lower on the southern side, which is also characterized by four deep valleys. We found no basal freeze-on ice in the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains area, subglacial lakes, or water bodies along the “Chinese Wall”. Ice thickness and subglacial topography data extracted from the Bedmap 2 database along the “Chinese Wall” are consistent with our results, but their resolution and accuracy are very limited in areas where the bedrock fluctuates intensely. The distribution of ice thickness and subglacial topography detected by ice-penetrating radar clarifies the features of the ice sheet in this “inaccessible” region. These results will help to advance the study of ice sheet dynamics and the determination of future locations of the GSM’s geological and deep ice core drilling sites in the Dome A region.

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Correspondence to Xiang-Bin Cui.

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This work was supported by National Basic Research Program of China (Grant Nos. 2013CBA01804 and 2012CB957702), the Chinese Polar Environmental Comprehensive Investigation and Assessment Programs (Grant No. CHINARE-02-02), and the National Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41101071).

Cui Xiang-Bin, PhD, Assistant researcher at the Polar Research Institute of China, graduated from the Department of Earth Science of Zhejiang University in 2010, and is now engaged mainly in research on ice sheet geophysical surveys and changes in Antarctica.

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Cui, XB., Sun, B., Su, XG. et al. Distribution of ice thickness and subglacial topography of the “Chinese Wall” around Kunlun Station, East Antarctica. Appl. Geophys. 13, 209–216 (2016).

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