The geothermal heat flux to the base of the Antarctic ice sheet is inherently difficult to measure, yet accurate estimates are necessary to better understand cryosphere dynamics. This is crucial to improve models of ice flow, mass loss and sea level change, and optimise site selection for ice core paleoclimate studies.
With this motivation in mind, a diverse community of about 50 international researchers across the solid Earth-cryosphere sciences met in Hobart on 21-23 March 2018 to discuss current efforts, collaborations and future directions in geothermal heat flux research.
Four themes encapsulated the foci for the Workshop:
- Theme 1: Geothermal heat flux in ice sheet modelling (convenors: Frank Pattyn, Felicity Graham) – impact of geothermal heat flux on ice sheet dynamic processes simulated by numerical models at a range of scales, and numerical model capabilities to constrain current estimates of geothermal heat flux.
- Theme 2: Measuring and estimating geothermal heat flux though the cryosphere and on continental shelves (convenors: Karsten Gohl, Slawek Tulaczyk, Jason Roberts, Caroline Branecky Begeman) – measurements of geothermal heat flux under the ice sheet and at ice-proximal settings along the inner continental shelf, and methods to derive geothermal heat flux based on properties of the ice sheet.
- Theme 3: Estimating geothermal heat flux from solid Earth properties (convenors: Weisen Shen, Jacqueline Halpin, Derrick Hasterok) – novel approaches to constraining the magnitude and spatial variability of geothermal heat flux across the Antarctic continent from a solid Earth/plate tectonic perspective.
- Theme 4: New technologies, future priorities and data integration for Antarctic geothermal heat flux (conveners: Anya Reading, Duncan Young) – near-term field campaigns using the new equipment and platforms, challenges in data integration to advance knowledge in geothermal heat flux research and future research priorities.
Sessions were scheduled over 3 days, each featuring a longer-format presentation from an invited keynote speaker, poster sessions, integrated with stimulating discussion and workshop sessions. A full program and abstract volume can be found on the Workshop website.
Extended workshop sessions on the final day allowed plenty of time to discuss current plans, future research and field campaigns, emerging technologies and new initiatives.
Community priorities discussed included:
- Reconcile the different geothermal heat flux maps inferred from seismic tomography and geomagnetics
- A radiogenic heat production database for Antarctic rocks to be linked with the SCAR GeoMap project
- A 3D lithosphere and crust reference model from which to generate geothermal heat flux maps
- An icesheet model intercomparison project relating to geothermal heat flux
- New field and airborne observations to derive solid Earth structure and thermal properties using multiple techniques
- Understand the interplay between subglacial water and groundwater and links to/effects on geothermal heat flux
What workshop at the bottom of the world would be complete without sampling the local delicacies? Our social program was an opportunity for informal discussions, with a focus on delicious local Tasmanian produce at the Welcome function, held at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and at the Workshop dinner, which included a cruise down the River Derwent to the stunning Peppermint Bay Hotel. Delegates were also welcomed on board for a tour of Australia’s marine research vessel, the R/V Investigator, which was tied up alongside in the harbour.
The Organising Committee acknowledges the generous sponsorship of the following organisations, which funded a significant proportion of the Workshop logistics and travel bursaries for Early Career Researchers, Invited Speakers and International Convenors:
- ARC Antarctic Gateway Partnership Special Research Initiative
- Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
- SCAR Solid Earth Response and Influence on Cryosphere Evolution
- The University of Tasmania
- Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC
The participation of a cross-section of researchers from all career stages was really encouraging to see – many interesting ideas were shared and new collaborations forged. We thank all the participants, and also those that shared ideas for discussion via email. The future looks bright for solid Earth-cryosphere research!
Jacqueline Halpin (University of Tasmania, Australia)
Anya Reading (University of Tasmania, Australia)