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Near the South Pole, a large subglacial lake exists beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet less than 10 km from where the bed temperature is inferred to be −9°C. A thermodynamic model was used to investigate the apparent contradiction of basal water existing in the vicinity of a cold bed. Model results indicate that South Pole Lake is freezing and that neither present-day geothermal flux nor ice flow is capable of producing the necessary heat to sustain basal water at this location. We hypothesize that the lake comprises relict water formed during a different configuration of ice dynamics when significant frictional heating from ice sliding was available. Additional modelling of assumed basal sliding shows frictional heating was capable of producing the necessary heat to fill South Pole Lake. Independent evidence of englacial structures measured by airborne radar revel ice-sheet flow was more dynamic in the past. Ice sliding is estimated to have ceased between 16.8 and 10.7 ka based on an ice chronology from a nearby borehole. These findings reveal major post-Last Glacial Maximum ice-dynamic change within the interior of East Antarctica, demonstrating that the present interior ice flow is different than that under full glacial conditions.

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