Geophysics, Water Balance, and History of Thick Perennial Ice Covers on Antarctic Lakes

TitleGeophysics, Water Balance, and History of Thick Perennial Ice Covers on Antarctic Lakes
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsDugan, HA
Secondary AuthorsDoran, PT
Academic DepartmentDepartment of Earth and Environmental Sciences
UniversityUniversity of Illinois
CityChicago, IL
Thesis Typedoctoral
KeywordsAntarctica, brine, lake ice, McMurdo Dry Valleys, polar lakes, sublimation

Antarctic lakes are studied as sentinels of future change, for paleolimnological records contained in the sediments, and as habitats for the simple food webs that can exist in inhospitable environments. Understanding how lakes are formed and are sustained in response to landscape and climate conditions is critical in addressing the aforementioned research themes. This thesis is governed by the overarching hypothesis that an understanding of hydrologic and sediment transport processes associated with lake ice formation and preservation can be used to reveal past climatic changes, and further our awareness of current changes in climate and water balance in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. The first chapter focuses on water loss from closed basin lakes in Taylor Valley, Antarctica, and presents updated estimates of sublimation and ablation rates from long-term empirical measurements. The second and third chapters address the formation of Lake Vida, Antarctica. The former investigates the accretion of a 27 m ice cover, and considers the origin of thick sediment layers in the ice cover, and the latter uses two geophysical methods to quantify the extent and volume of the brine network in the subsurface beneath the lake. The results presented herein advance the study of hydrogeology in continuous permafrost, provide additional evidence for fluctuating climate states in the McMurdo Dry Valleys throughout the mid to late Holocene, and provide a case study for the preservation of water in a cold, desert environment analogous to neighboring planets.