Glaciological Studies at Wilkes Station, Budd Coast, Antarctica1

  1. Malcolm Mellor
  1. Richard Leo Cameron

Published Online: 14 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/AR002p0001

Antarctic Snow and Ice Studies

Antarctic Snow and Ice Studies

How to Cite

Cameron, R. L. (1971) Glaciological Studies at Wilkes Station, Budd Coast, Antarctica1 , in Antarctic Snow and Ice Studies (ed M. Mellor), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/AR002p0001

Author Information

  1. Institute of Polar Studies, Ohio State University, Columbus

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1971

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875901169

Online ISBN: 9781118669808



  • Accumulation of snow;
  • Climate and regime;
  • Glaciology;
  • Ice and firn temperatures;
  • Ice movement


Glaciological studies were conducted in the vicinity of Wilkes station, on the Windmill Islands, Budd Coast, East Antarctica, from February 1957 to January 1958. The main aim of this work was to determine the mass balance of the margin of the ice sheet, because the state of this ice reflects the condition of the entire ice sheet. The environment of the marginal ice was determined utilizing three meteorological stations: a main base at sea level; S-1, 5 kilometers inland, at 262-meter elevation; and S-2, 80 kilometers inland, at 1166-meter elevation. The ice sheet inland of Wilkes station receives little precipitation from cyclones, and there is little snow accumulation. Stake and shallow-pit studies of snow accumulation give values ranging from 7.9 to 15.9 g cm−2 per year. Studies in a deep pit at S-2 give an annual mean accumulation of 13.3 g cm−2 for the last 174 years. Between S-1 and S-2 there is no pronounced variation in accumulation due to elevation or distance from the coast. Studies of 10-meter temperature from the coast to 96 kilometers inland give a lapse rate of 1.02°C per 100-meter elevation. From 10- to 62-meter depth at S-2 there is no discernible temperature gradient. Temperature gradients in the 10- to 28-meter depth interval from S-2 to S-1 are positive and reach +2.80°C per 100 meters at S-1. Temperature studies at S-1 give the following values of thermal diffusivity and thermal conductivity for ice of density of 0.87 g cm−3:

α = (15.38 ± 0.9) × 10-3 cm2 sec-1

k = (6.56 ± 0.4) × 10-3 cal sec-1°C-1

These values are considerably higher than those for pure ice of density of 0.917 g cm−3, but this difference is not as yet explained. The Vanderford glacier, south of the Windmill Islands, is moving 2.1 meters per day and is discharging 3.86 km3 of ice per year. Total ice discharge along 167 km of Budd Coast is 5.43 km3 of ice per year, equivalent to 4.9 km3 of water. Strain studies of the ice-sheet surface at S-2 give a compressive strain rate downslope of −24×10−5 year−1 and an extensive strain perpendicular to the slope of +35×10−5 year−1. Calculation of the regime of the ice-sheet margin, an area of 9400 km2, indicates an excess of ablation over accumulation of 0.16 km3 of water per year. The ice sheet in the Budd Coast area is thinning, a condition consistent with glacial geology observations on the Windmill Islands.