Recovery Lakes, East Antarctica: Radar assessment of sub-glacial water extent

Authors


Abstract

[1] A fast-flowing tributary of Recovery ice stream penetrates more than 500 km into the interior of East Antarctica. Recent satellite-based studies found surface features in the onset area of this tributary that indicate a significant subglacial hydraulic system, including four large smooth basins, the typical surface expression of large subglacial lakes, as well as eleven smaller areas over which ice-sheet surface elevations rapidly changed by discharge/filling of subglacial water. Here we present the first ice-penetrating radar evidence of subglacial conditions in this area. We identified a distinct ice-water interface only over a limited area within the boundaries of the investigated large smooth basins, previously hypothesized to be water-filled lakes. The radar characteristics in some areas are similar to those of a drained lake, indicating that parts of the bed are wet, but not a typical lake. We also find evidence for discrete water bodies outside of the lake boundaries. The lines of evidence indicate that the northern most two Recovery Lakes have recently drained.

Ancillary