Objectives of Antarctic Glaciological Research

  1. A.P. Crary,
  2. L.M. Gould,
  3. E.O. Hulburt,
  4. Hugh Odishaw and
  5. Waldo E. Smith
  1. Robert P. Sharp

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM001p0027

Antarctica in the International Geophysical Year: Based on a Symposium on the Antarctic

Antarctica in the International Geophysical Year: Based on a Symposium on the Antarctic

How to Cite

Sharp, R. P. (1956) Objectives of Antarctic Glaciological Research, in Antarctica in the International Geophysical Year: Based on a Symposium on the Antarctic (eds A.P. Crary, L.M. Gould, E.O. Hulburt, H. Odishaw and W. E. Smith), American Geophysical Union, Washington D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM001p0027

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1956

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900018

Online ISBN: 9781118669204



  • Accumulation and wastage;
  • Climatic fluctuation;
  • Crystal fabrics and glacier movement;
  • Deep core drilling;
  • Deflation and calving;
  • Firn stratigraphy and thermal regimen;
  • Glaciometeology;
  • Gravimetric survey


Antarctic glaciological studies should focus principally upon features unique to the region and upon basic relations of world-wide significance. Antarctic ice is the greatest mass of land-locked water substance on Earth, and determination of its volume by geophysical means is needed with respect to a complete world water inventory, to a determination of Pleistocene eustatic shifts of sea level, and to estimates of possible future shifts of sea level. A prediction is made that ice in East Antarctica may prove to be as much as 3500 to 4000 meters thick and that the average thickness of Antarctic inland ice exceeds 1600 meters. Return of even a part of this water to the oceans has far-reaching geological and economic significance, but changes in Antarctic ice wastage will probably be slow enough and small enough so that the sea level shifts will not be catastrophic. Data on the past, present, and future behavior of this ice will be sought through studies of accumulation and wastage, of firn stratigraphy, of geological evidence for ancient fluctuations, and of pertinent glaciometeorological factors. Identification of annual accumulation layers is essential, and oxygen-isotope ratios (O18/O16) promise to be useful for this and for identifying and indicating the nature and magnitude of earlier secular climatic variations.

Deep drill holes in the Ross Ice Shelf and the inland ice will give valuable data on thermal regime and on the diagenetic changes converting snow to glacier ice in this cold environment. Crystal fabrics determined in cores from these holes should bear significantly upon the basic problem of glacier flow. The vertical profile of flow velocity will be determined by inclinometer surveys in the holes.

Study of the constitution, structure, and genesis of the Ross Ice Shelf will advance the understanding of ice shelves elsewhere. Finally, every effort will be made to recognize and date, by tritium, radiocarbon, or other means, prominent events in the history of Antarctic ice so that synchronous or non-synchronous behavior with respect to ice masses in the rest of the world can be established.