Big Picture

Antarctica is large, desolate and largely unknown. It is far away from where most of us live, but like it or not, our fate is tied together with this continent in these changing times. To make reliable guesses on how Antarctica will behave in the future, it is essential to understand how it works and if possible, how it behaved in the past. In my attempt to solve a part of this puzzle, I focus on Antarctica's coasts where floating ice shelves on one hand, restrain the outflow of the grounded ice flowing out from the plateau while, on the other hand, the majority of the mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet takes place at these ice shelves through various ablation processes. I specifically have been investigating features called 'ice rises', which are islands of grounded ice in between floating ice shelves. Although small, ice rises play crucial role in the Antarctic ice dynamics. In addition, they act as record-keepers, storing the history of past climate and ice flow within their ice.


Ice Rise Research

Overall, my aim has been to investigate the current status and past evolution of ice rises in the coastal Dronning Maud Land region. I approach this problem at different spatial and temporal scales to develop a more complete understanding, while at the same time attain a wider variety of research skills. The first approach has been to get investigate an ice rise in detail with its mass balance and glaciological settings through a diverse set of field measurements. This involves collecting and processing various field-based data including: GNSS, stake-height measurements, shallow and deep-sounding radars, firn cores etc.  The second approach involves using the numerical ice-flow model Elmer/ICE to simulate past scenarios and judge their likelihood on the basis of how well they reproduce the observed englacial ice stratigraphy. With this approach instead of the present snapshot, I try elucidating the evolution of the ice rise and the surrounding region over the scale of a couple of millennia. Results from Blaskimen Island ice rise using these two approaches were published in Goel et al., 2017 and Goel et al., 2018. The third approach has been to utilize the existing literature, regional datasets and satellite imagery to review the existing research in the Dronning Maud Land and explore the long-term stability of ice rises in these regions. I then use the above information to suggest ice rises suitable for drilling ice cores for paleoclimate studies as well as ice rises suitable for deciphering ice dynamics and evolution in the region. This work was published as Goel et., 2020.



Goel et al., 2020

Characteristics of ice rises and ice rumples in Dronning Maud Land and Enderby Land, Antarctica

Journal of Glaciology

Morlighem et al., 2019

Nature Geoscience

Deep glacial troughs and stabilizing ridges unveiled beneath the margins of the Antarctic ice sheet

Goel et al., 2018

Journal of Glaciology

Ice-rise stratigraphy reveals changes in surface mass balance over the last millennia in Dronning Maud Land

Goel et al., 2017

Glaciological settings and recent mass balance of Blåskimen Island in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica



© 2020 by Vikram Goel.