Numerical models are the primary predictive tools for understanding the dynamic behaviour of the Antarctic ice sheet. However, a key boundary parameter, sub-glacial heat flow, remains poorly constrained. We show that variations in abundance and distribution of heat-producing elements within the Antarctic continental crust result in greater and more variable regional sub-glacial heat flows than currently assumed in ice modelling studies. Such elevated heat flows would have a fundamental effect on ice sheet behaviour and highlight that geological controls on heat flow must be considered to obtain more accurate and refined predictions of ice mass balance and sea-level change.
Heat flow and heat production definitions, heat production data, and details of the 2D model of the gross geometry of the continental lithosphere for a section through Prydz Bay are available at www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18690.