Radar-derived bed roughness characterization of Institute and Möller Ice Streams, West Antarctica, and comparison with Siple Coast ice streams

Robert G. Bingham (Corresponding Author), Martin J. Siegert

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Subglacial bed conditions exert a significant control on ice stream behavior and evolution, and can be characterized by determining bed roughness from FFT analysis of radar-imaged basal reflectors. Here we assess bed roughness across Institute and Möller ice streams, West Antarctica, and compare our findings with bed roughness determined across the Siple Coast ice streams. We find that variations in bed roughness are spatially organized, and attribute this to the varying efficacy of subglacial erosion and deposition, with rougher (inland, slow-flowing) regions largely manifesting preglacial topography, and smoother (downstream, fast-flowing) regions evincing significant postglacial modification to the subglacial landscape. The observed similarities between bed roughness characteristics of IIS/MIS and the Siple ice streams suggest that IIS and MIS are largely underlain by wet, poorly consolidated sediments, and may therefore be vulnerable to the types of dynamical instabilities experienced by the Siple ice streams.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL21504
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007



  • bed roughness
  • West Antarctica
  • airborne radar

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