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Keywords:

  • ice sheets;
  • basal thermal regime;
  • spreadsheet;
  • Scotland, Antarctica

Abstract

The flow of ice sheets and their geomorphological impact is greatly influenced by their basal thermal regime. Calculations of basal temperatures in ice sheets are therefore fundamental in evaluating glacier dynamics and in determining the spatial distribution of zones of erosion and deposition beneath ice masses. Calculations of basal temperatures are not frequently attempted, however, primarily because of the techniques required to solve the heat conduction equation between the ice surface and the base. This paper describes a new Excel spreadsheet method of solving this equation that can readily be applied to both former and contemporary ice sheets. The application of the spreadsheet is illustrated with two examples. The first provides a calculation of basal thermal regime beneath the north eastern part of the Scottish ice sheet during the last glacial maximum; the second shows how basal ice temperatures can be calculated beneath the modern Antarctic ice sheet. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.