Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How does ice flow?

07.05.2010
Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute present first results of a new measurement method in Antarctica

Currently the yearly General Assembly of the European Geological Union takes place in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Olaf Eisen from the German Alfred Wegener Institute presents results from an environmentally friendly measurement method that he and his colleagues used on an Antarctic ice-shelf for the first time in early 2010. It supplies data that are input to models for the ice mass balance and thus permit better forecasting of future changes in the sea level.

The quality of scientific models depends to a decisive degree on the available database. Therefore members of a young investigators group supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) now applied a special geophysical measurement method, vibroseismics, for data collection in the Antarctic for the first time. “By means of vibroseismic measurements, we would like to find out more about the structure of the ice and thus about the flow characteristics of the Antarctic ice sheet,” explains Dr. Olaf Eisen from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. He is head of the LIMPICS young investigators group (Linking micro-physical properties to macro features in ice sheets with geophysical techniques).

Eisen now presents first results from geophysical measurement campaign in the Antarctic on the international conference. The objective of the expedition was to determine the internal structure of an ice sheet from its surface by means of geophysical methods. The cooperation partners are the Universities of Bergen (Norway), Swansea (Wales, UK), Innsbruck (Austria) and Heidelberg (Germany) and the Commission for Glaciology of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. For test purposes vibroseismics was used along with proven explosive seismic methods for the first time on an ice sheet.

One of the problems involved in the application of seismic methods on ice sheets is the very porous firn layer, which may be 50 to 100 metres thick. Explosive seismics involves drilling a hole, approximately 10 to 20 metres deep, into the firn to achieve a better coupling between the explosive charge and the surrounding firn or ice. Drilling takes a lot of time and permits only slow progress along the seismic profiles. Vibroseismics entails the generation of seismic waves directly on the surface. For this purpose the vibrator pad of a 16-ton vibroseis truck of the University of Bergen is pressed onto the precompressed firn and set into operation at a defined vibration rate. In contrast to explosive seismic methods, the excited seismic signal is known and can be repeatedly generated as frequently as desired, leading in the end to improved data quality. However, the loss of seismic energy in the porous firn is a disadvantage. Therefore, the scientists compare the explosive seismic and vibroseismic methods quantitatively and in this way want determine how much energy is propagating from the surface through the ice and reflected back to the surface. First data analyses show that vibroseismics is coequal to the classic explosive seismics concerning the amplitude of the waves sent into deeper snow and ice layers. An explicit advantage is the lower effort and thus less time and energy the scientists spend to measure seismic profiles now.

Yngve Kristoffersen, professor of geophysics at the University of Bergen, who provides the vibroseismic equipment, explains: “The successful pilot study opens up a new era for efficient and more environmentally friendly methods for obtaining seismic information on the internal structure of the ice and the bedrock underneath it. This would extend our knowledge about how the ice sheet moves across the bedrock and about the geological structure of the rock under the ice.” Furthermore, in the coming years this method will be applied during pre-site surveys of future geological drill sites under ice shelves, which will contribute to a better understanding of climate history.

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and oceans of the high and mid latitudes. It coordinates polar research in Germany and provides major infrastructure to the international scientific community, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctic. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the sixteen research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Margarete Pauls | idw
Further information:
http://www.awi.de

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores
24.01.2017 | University of Utah

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>