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Project Reference

Name GOCE+ Anctartica

Title The influence of the Antarctic lithosphere on glacial isostatic adjustment modelling

Thematic Area Cryosphere


Action Line Novel Algorithms and Products

Status In Progress

Project Description


In the ESA Support to Science Element GOCE+Antarctica, we study the influence of the lithospheric structure on estimates of GIA. From recent geophysical, especially seismological, studies new insights on the deep structure of the Antarctic continents are available. However, the seismological models differ in resolution and do not provide a consistent image of the lithosphere. This is critical in analysing the feedback between the lithosphere (Solid Earth) and glacial loading or unloading (Cryosphere).

To reduce such ambiguities, we combine the latest seismological models with gravity gradient data derived from the GOCE satellite mission and the recent ESA Polar Gap airborne survey. The gradients are in particular sensitive to the geometry and density variations of the main lithospheric layers, i.e. ice and sediment thickness, the Moho depth and the temperature and composition of the upper mantle. Initial results indicate that differences exist in the mode of compensation for West and East Antarctica related to different mantle properties.

The impact of an improved lithospheric model on GIA modelling is estimated by testing the sensitivity to the new temperature and density distribution and by comparing 1D and 3D viscosity models, especially in areas of low viscosity such as in the rapidly thinning Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Project Consortium

Project Partners CAU : Christian Albrechts University of Kiel (Prime contractor)
DTU : Technical University of Denmark (DTU)(Subcontractor)
TU Delft : Delft University of Technology(Subcontractor)
BAS : British Antarctic Survey(Subcontractor)

Contact Points

Project Manager

Technical Officer


Useful Information

Brochure: STSE | Support to Science Element
STSE Report 2008-2012
STSE Conferences