Bio


My research focuses on advancing the scientific and technical foundations of geophysical ice penetrating radar and its use in observing and understanding the interaction of ice and water in the solar system. I am primarily interested in the subglacial and englacial conditions of rapidly changing ice sheets and their contribution to global sea level rise. However, a growing secondary focus of my work is the subsurface exploration of icy moons. I am also interested in the development and application of science-optimized geophysical radar systems. I consider myself an instrument scientist and strive to approach problems from both an earth systems science and a radar systems engineering perspective. I am actively engaged with the flow of information through each step of the observational science process; from instrument and experiment design, through data processing and analysis, to modeling and inference. This allows me to draw from a multidisciplinary set of tools to test system-scale and process-level hypotheses. For me, this deliberate integration of science and engineering is the most powerful and satisfying way to approach questions in Earth and planetary science

Academic Appointments


Administrative Appointments


  • Assistant Professor, Department of Geophysics, Stanford University (2016 - Present)
  • Assistant Professor (by courtesy), Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University (2017 - Present)
  • Faculty Affiliate, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (2016 - Present)
  • Radar Systems Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (2014 - 2016)

Honors & Awards


  • Senior Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (2019)
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation (2018)
  • LInC Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (2018)
  • Fredrick E. Terman Fellowship, Stanford University (2016 - 2019)
  • Science Team Member, Mini-RF Radar, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA (2016)
  • Science Team Member, REASON Radar Sounder, Europa Mission, NASA (2015)
  • JPL Team Award, Europa Mission Instrument Proposal (2015)
  • Best Graduate Student Paper Award, Jackson School of Geosciences (2014)
  • Heart of Gold Award for Service to Science Education, National Science Olympiad (2014)
  • Best Ph.D. Student Poster Award, Jackson School of Geosciences (2013)
  • Best Ph.D. Student Speaker Award, Jackson School of Geosciences (2013)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, Operation Ice Bridge (2012)
  • David Brunton Jr. Felloswhip, University of Texas Graduate School (2012)
  • Gale White Fellowship, University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (2012)
  • Antarctic Service Medal, National Science Foundation (2011)
  • The Friar Society, University of Texas (2010)
  • Graduate Research Fellowship Program, National Science Foundation (2009)
  • Recruiting Fellowship, University of Texas Graduate School (2008)
  • Thelma Johnson Showalter Prize, Bucknell Univiersity (2007)
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Bucknell University (2007)
  • Tau Beta Pi, Bucknell University (2006)
  • Sigma Pi Sigma, Bucknell University (2006)
  • Meritorious Winner, COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling (2005)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Council Member, International Glaciological Society (2019 - Present)
  • Scientific Editor, Journal of Glaciology (2019 - Present)
  • Senator, School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences, Stanford Faculty Senate (2018 - Present)
  • Member, Solid Earth Response and influence on Cryosphere Evolution Steering Committee, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (2016 - Present)
  • Member, Interiors Working Group, Europa Mission, NASA (2015 - Present)
  • Lead, Passive Sounding Working Group, Radar for Icy Moon Exploration, ESA (2015 - 2018)
  • Chair, National Science Olympiad Earth and Space Science Committee (2014 - Present)
  • Member, Society of Exploration Geophysicists (2008 - Present)
  • Member, IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society (2008 - Present)
  • Member, American Geophysical Union (2008 - Present)
  • Member, IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (2008 - Present)
  • Member, International Glaciological Society (2008 - Present)

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, Geophysics (2014)
  • B.S., Bucknell University, Electrical Engineering (2007)
  • B.A., Bucknell University, Physics (2007)

2018-19 Courses


Stanford Advisees


All Publications


  • Seismology with Dark Data: Image-Based Processing of Analog Records Using Machine Learning for the Rangely Earthquake Control Experiment SEISMOLOGICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Wang, K., Ellsworth, W. L., Beroza, G. C., Williams, G., Zhang, M., Schroeder, D., Rubinstein, J. 2019; 90 (2): 553–62

    View details for DOI 10.1785/0220180298

    View details for Web of Science ID 000460125100013

  • Doppler-based discrimination of radar sounder target scattering properties: A case study of subsurface water geometry in Europa's ice shell Icarus Michaelides, R., Schroeder, D. M. 2019
  • Multidecadal observations of the Antarctic ice sheet from restored analog radar records. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Schroeder, D. M., Dowdeswell, J. A., Siegert, M. J., Bingham, R. G., Chu, W., MacKie, E. J., Siegfried, M. R., Vega, K. I., Emmons, J. R., Winstein, K. 2019

    Abstract

    Airborne radar sounding can measure conditions within and beneath polar ice sheets. In Antarctica, most digital radar-sounding data have been collected in the last 2 decades, limiting our ability to understand processes that govern longer-term ice-sheet behavior. Here, we demonstrate how analog radar data collected over 40 y ago in Antarctica can be combined with modern records to quantify multidecadal changes. Specifically, we digitize over 400,000 line kilometers of exploratory Antarctic radar data originally recorded on 35-mm optical film between 1971 and 1979. We leverage the increased geometric and radiometric resolution of our digitization process to show how these data can be used to identify and investigate hydrologic, geologic, and topographic features beneath and within the ice sheet. To highlight their scientific potential, we compare the digitized data with contemporary radar measurements to reveal that the remnant eastern ice shelf of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica had thinned between 10 and 33% between 1978 and 2009. We also release the collection of scanned radargrams in their entirety in a persistent public archive along with updated geolocation data for a subset of the data that reduces the mean positioning error from 5 to 2.5 km. Together, these data represent a unique and renewed extensive, multidecadal historical baseline, critical for observing and modeling ice-sheet change on societally relevant timescales.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1821646116

    View details for PubMedID 31481619

  • In Situ Demonstration of a Passive Radio Sounding Approach Using the Sun for Echo Detection IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING Peters, S. T., Schroeder, D. M., Castelletti, D., Haynes, M., Romero-Wolf, A. 2018; 56 (12): 7338–49
  • Geometric Power Fall-Off in Radar Sounding IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING Haynes, M. S., Chapin, E., Schroeder, D. M. 2018; 56 (11): 6571–85
  • A constraint upon the basal water distribution and thermal state of the Greenland Ice Sheet from radar bed echoes CRYOSPHERE Jordan, T. M., Williams, C. N., Schroeder, D. M., Martos, Y. M., Cooper, M. A., Siegert, M. J., Paden, J. D., Huybrechts, P., Bamber, J. L. 2018; 12 (9): 2831–54
  • Resolving the internal and basal geometry of ice masses using imaging phase-sensitive radar JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY Young, T., Schroeder, D. M., Christoffersen, P., Lok, L., Nicholls, K. W., Brennan, P. V., Doyle, S. H., Hubbard, B., Hubbard, A. 2018; 64 (246): 649–60
  • Retrieval of Englacial Firn Aquifer Thickness from Ice-Penetrating Radar Sounding in Southeastern Greenland Geophysical Research Letters Chu, W., Schroeder, D. M., Siegfried, M. R. 2018
  • UNFOCUSED SAR PROCESSING FOR ENGLACIAL LAYER SLOPE ESTIMATION USING RADAR SOUNDER DATA Castelletti, D., Schroeder, D. M., Mantelli, E., Hilger, A., IEEE IEEE. 2018: 4150–53
  • FIRST IN-SITU DEMONSTRATION OF PASSIVE RADIO SOUNDING USING THE SUN AS A SOURCE FOR ECHO DETECTION Peters, S. T., Schroeder, D. M., Castelletti, D., Haynes, M., Romero-Wolf, A., IEEE IEEE. 2018: 4154–57
  • Discovery of a hypersaline subglacial lake complex beneath Devon Ice Cap, Canadian Arctic. Science advances Rutishauser, A., Blankenship, D. D., Sharp, M., Skidmore, M. L., Greenbaum, J. S., Grima, C., Schroeder, D. M., Dowdeswell, J. A., Young, D. A. 2018; 4 (4): eaar4353

    Abstract

    Subglacial lakes are unique environments that, despite the extreme dark and cold conditions, have been shown to host microbial life. Many subglacial lakes have been discovered beneath the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, but no spatially isolated water body has been documented as hypersaline. We use radio-echo sounding measurements to identify two subglacial lakes situated in bedrock troughs near the ice divide of Devon Ice Cap, Canadian Arctic. Modeled basal ice temperatures in the lake area are no higher than -10.5°C, suggesting that these lakes consist of hypersaline water. This implication of hypersalinity is in agreement with the surrounding geology, which indicates that the subglacial lakes are situated within an evaporite-rich sediment unit containing a bedded salt sequence, which likely act as the solute source for the brine. Our results reveal the first evidence for subglacial lakes in the Canadian Arctic and the first hypersaline subglacial lakes reported to date. We conclude that these previously unknown hypersaline subglacial lakes may represent significant and largely isolated microbial habitats, and are compelling analogs for potential ice-covered brine lakes and lenses on planetary bodies across the solar system.

    View details for PubMedID 29651462

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5895444

  • Surface Meltwater Impounded by Seasonal Englacial Storage in West Greenland Geophysical Research Letters Kendrick, A. K., Schroeder, D. M., Chu, W., Young, T. J., Christoffersen, P., Todd, J., Doyle, S. H., Box, J. E., Hubbard, A., Hubbard, B., Brennan, P. V., Nicholls, K. W., Lok, L. B. 2018

    View details for DOI 10.1029/2018GL079787

  • A Constraint Upon the Basal Water Distribution and Basal Thermal State of the Greenland Ice Sheet from Radar Bed-Echoes The Cryosphere Jordan, T. M., Williams, C. N., Schroeder, D. M., Martos, Y. M., Cooper, M. A., Siegert, M. J., Paden, J. D., Hyybrechts, P., Bamber, J. L. 2018

    View details for DOI 10.5194/tc-2018-53

  • Geometric Power Fall-off in Radar Sounding IEEE Transactions in Geoscience and Remote Sensing Haynes, M., Chapin, E., Schroeder, D. M. 2018
  • Resolving the internal and basal geometry of ice masses using imaging phase-sensitive radar Journal of Glaciology Young, T., Schroeder, D. M., Christoffersen, P. V., Lok, L., Nicholls, K. W., Brennan, P. V., Doyle, S. H., Hubbard, B., Hubbard, A. 2018
  • In-Situ Demonstration of a Passive Radio Sounding Approach Using the Sun for Echo Detection, IEEE Transactions in Geoscience and Remote Sensing Peters, S. T., Schroeder, D. M., Castelletti, D., Haynes, M., Romero-Wolf, A. 2018
  • Complex Basal Thermal Transition Near the Onset of Petermann Glacier, Greenland Journal of Geophysical Research Chu, W., Schroeder, D. M., Seroussi, H., Creyts, T. T., Bell, R. E. 2018
  • Discovery of a hypersaline subglacial lake complex beneath Devon Ice Cap, Canadian Arctic Science Advances Rutishauser, A., Blankenship, D. D., Sharp, M., Skidmore, M. L., Greenbaum, J. S., Grima, C., Schroeder, D. M., Dowdeswell, J. A., Young, D. A. 2018: eaar4353

    Abstract

    Subglacial lakes are unique environments that, despite the extreme dark and cold conditions, have been shown to host microbial life. Many subglacial lakes have been discovered beneath the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, but no spatially isolated water body has been documented as hypersaline. We use radio-echo sounding measurements to identify two subglacial lakes situated in bedrock troughs near the ice divide of Devon Ice Cap, Canadian Arctic. Modeled basal ice temperatures in the lake area are no higher than -10.5°C, suggesting that these lakes consist of hypersaline water. This implication of hypersalinity is in agreement with the surrounding geology, which indicates that the subglacial lakes are situated within an evaporite-rich sediment unit containing a bedded salt sequence, which likely act as the solute source for the brine. Our results reveal the first evidence for subglacial lakes in the Canadian Arctic and the first hypersaline subglacial lakes reported to date. We conclude that these previously unknown hypersaline subglacial lakes may represent significant and largely isolated microbial habitats, and are compelling analogs for potential ice-covered brine lakes and lenses on planetary bodies across the solar system.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/sciadv.aar4353

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5895444

  • Radar attenuation in Europa's ice shell: Obstacles and opportunities for constraining the shell thickness and its thermal structure JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-PLANETS Kalousova, K., Schroeder, D. M., Soderlund, K. M. 2017; 122 (3): 524-545
  • Radar attenuation in Europa's ice shell: Obstacles and opportunities for constraining the shell thickness and its thermal structure Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets Kalousova, K., Schroeder, D. M., Soderlund, K. M. 2017

    View details for DOI 10.1002/2016JE005110

  • An Interferometric Approach to Cross-Track Clutter Detection in Two-Channel VHF Radar Sounders IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing Castelletti, D., Schroeder, D. M., Hensley, S., Grima, C., Ng, G., Young, D., Gim, Y., Bruzzone, L., Moussessian, A., Blankenship, D. D. 2017
  • Ocean access beneath the southwest tributary of Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica Annals of Glaciology Schroeder, D. M., Hilger, A. M., Paden, J. D., Young, D. A., Corr, H. F. 2017

    View details for DOI 10.1017/aog.2017.45

  • Assessing the potential for measuring Europa's tidal Love number h2 using radar sounder and topographic imager data Earth and Planetary Science Letters Steinbruegge, G., Schroeder, D. M., Haynes, M. S., Hussmann, H., Grima, C., Blankenship, D. D. 2017
  • Mars radar clutter and surface roughness characteristics from MARSIS data Icarus Campbell, B. A., Schroeder, D. M., Whitten, J. L. 2017
  • Self-affine subglacial roughness: consequences for radar scattering and basal water discrimination in northern Greenland The Cryosphere Jordan, T. M., Cooper, M. A., Schroeder, D. M., Williams, C. N., Paden, J. D., Siegert, M. J., Bamber, J. L. 2017
  • Bright prospects for radar detection of Europa's ocean ICARUS Aglyamov, Y., Schroeder, D. M., Vance, S. D. 2017; 281: 334-337
  • Extensive winter subglacial water storage beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Chu, W., Schroeder, D. M., Seroussi, H., Creyts, T. T., Palmer, S. J., Bell, R. E. 2016; 43 (24): 12484-12492
  • Assessing the potential for passive radio sounding of Europa and Ganymede with RIME and REASON PLANETARY AND SPACE SCIENCE Schroeder, D. M., Romero-Wolf, A., Carrer, L., Grima, C., Campbell, B. A., Kofman, W., Bruzzone, L., Blankenship, D. D. 2016; 134: 52-60
  • Prospects of passive radio detection of a subsurface ocean on Europa with a lander PLANETARY AND SPACE SCIENCE Romero-Wolf, A., Schroeder, D. M., Ries, P., Bills, B. G., Naudet, C., Scott, B. R., Treuhaft, R., Vance, S. 2016; 129: 118-121
  • Subglacial controls on the flow of Institute Ice Stream, West Antarctica ANNALS OF GLACIOLOGY Siegert, M. J., Ross, N., Li, J., Schroeder, D. M., Rippin, D., Ashmore, D., Bingham, R., Gogineni, P. 2016; 57 (73): 19-24
  • Evidence for Variable Grounding-Zone and Shear-Margin Basal Conditions Across Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica Geophysics Schroeder, D. M., Grima, G., Blankenship, D. D. 2016; 81 (1)
  • Adaptively constraining radar attenuation and temperature across the Thwaites Glacier catchment using bed echoes JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY Schroeder, D. M., Seroussi, H., Chu, W., Young, D. A. 2016; 62 (236): 1075-1082
  • Rapid submarine ice melting in the grounding zones of ice shelves in West Antarctica Nature Communications Khazendar, A., Rignot, E., Schroeder, D. M., Seroussi, H., Seuchl, B., Mouginot, J., Sutterley, T. C., Velicogna, I. 2016
  • Deep radiostratigraphy of the East Antarctic plateau: connecting the Dome C and Vostok ice core sites JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY Cavitte, M. G., Blankenship, D. D., Young, D. A., Schroeder, D. M., Parrenin, F., Lemeur, E., MacGregor, J. A., Siegert, M. J. 2016; 62 (232): 323-334
  • Assessing the potential for passive radio sounding of Europa and Ganymede with RIME and REASON Planetary and Space Science Schroeder, D. M., Romero-Wolf, A., Carrer, L., Grima, C., Campbell, B. A., Kofman, W., Bruzzone, L., Blankenship, D. D. 2016
  • Radar signal propagation through the ionosphere of Europa PLANETARY AND SPACE SCIENCE Grima, C., Blankenship, D. D., Schroeder, D. M. 2015; 117: 421-428
  • Ocean access to a cavity beneath Totten Glacier in East Antarctica NATURE GEOSCIENCE Greenbaum, J. S., Blankenship, D. D., Young, D. A., Richter, T. G., Roberts, J. L., Aitken, A. R., Legresy, B., Schroeder, D. M., Warner, R. C., van Ommen, T. D., Siegert, M. J. 2015; 8 (4): 294-298

    View details for DOI 10.1038/NGEO2388

    View details for Web of Science ID 000352082300020

  • Estimating Subglacial Water Geometry Using Radar Bed Echo Specularity: Application to Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica IEEE GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING LETTERS Schroeder, D. M., Blankenship, D. D., Raney, R. K., Grima, C. 2015; 12 (3): 443-447
  • The distribution of basal water between Antarctic subglacial lakes from radar sounding Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A Young, D. A., Schroeder, D. M., Blankenship, D. D., Kempf, S. D., Quartini, E. 2015; 374 (2059)
  • Planetary landing-zone reconnaissance using ice-penetrating radar data: Concept validation in Antarctica PLANETARY AND SPACE SCIENCE Grima, C., Schroeder, D. M., Blankenship, D. D., Young, D. A. 2014; 103: 191-204
  • Airborne radar sounding evidence for deformable sediments and outcropping bedrock beneath Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Schroeder, D. M., Blankenship, D. D., Young, D. A., Witus, A. E., Anderson, J. B. 2014; 41 (20): 7200-7208
  • Surface slope control on firn density at Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica: Results from airborne radar sounding GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Grima, C., Blankenship, D. D., Young, D. A., Schroeder, D. M. 2014; 41 (19): 6787-6794
  • Evidence for elevated and spatially variable geothermal flux beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Schroeder, D. M., Blankenship, D. D., Young, D. A., Quartini, E. 2014; 111 (25): 9070-9072

    Abstract

    Heterogeneous hydrologic, lithologic, and geologic basal boundary conditions can exert strong control on the evolution, stability, and sea level contribution of marine ice sheets. Geothermal flux is one of the most dynamically critical ice sheet boundary conditions but is extremely difficult to constrain at the scale required to understand and predict the behavior of rapidly changing glaciers. This lack of observational constraint on geothermal flux is particularly problematic for the glacier catchments of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet within the low topography of the West Antarctic Rift System where geothermal fluxes are expected to be high, heterogeneous, and possibly transient. We use airborne radar sounding data with a subglacial water routing model to estimate the distribution of basal melting and geothermal flux beneath Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica. We show that the Thwaites Glacier catchment has a minimum average geothermal flux of ∼ 114 ± 10 mW/m(2) with areas of high flux exceeding 200 mW/m(2) consistent with hypothesized rift-associated magmatic migration and volcanism. These areas of highest geothermal flux include the westernmost tributary of Thwaites Glacier adjacent to the subaerial Mount Takahe volcano and the upper reaches of the central tributary near the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core drilling site.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1405184s11

    View details for Web of Science ID 000337760600029

    View details for PubMedID 24927578

  • Meltwater intensive glacial retreat in polar environments and investigation of associated sediments: example from Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS Witus, A. E., Branecky, C. M., Anderson, J. B., Szczucinski, W., Schroeder, D. M., Blankenship, D. D., Jakobsson, M. 2014; 85: 99-118
  • Evidence for a water system transition beneath Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Schroeder, D. M., Blankenship, D. D., Young, D. A. 2013; 110 (30): 12225-12228

    Abstract

    Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest, most rapidly changing glaciers on Earth, and its landward-sloping bed reaches the interior of the marine West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which impounds enough ice to yield meters of sea-level rise. Marine ice sheets with landward-sloping beds have a potentially unstable configuration in which acceleration can initiate or modulate grounding-line retreat and ice loss. Subglacial water has been observed and theorized to accelerate the flow of overlying ice dependent on whether it is hydrologically distributed or concentrated. However, the subglacial water systems of Thwaites Glacier and their control on ice flow have not been characterized by geophysical analysis. The only practical means of observing these water systems is airborne ice-penetrating radar, but existing radar analysis approaches cannot discriminate between their dynamically critical states. We use the angular distribution of energy in radar bed echoes to characterize both the extent and hydrologic state of subglacial water systems across Thwaites Glacier. We validate this approach with radar imaging, showing that substantial water volumes are ponding in a system of distributed canals upstream of a bedrock ridge that is breached and bordered by a system of concentrated channels. The transition between these systems occurs with increasing surface slope, melt-water flux, and basal shear stress. This indicates a feedback between the subglacial water system and overlying ice dynamics, which raises the possibility that subglacial water could trigger or facilitate a grounding-line retreat in Thwaites Glacier capable of spreading into the interior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1302828110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000322112300031

    View details for PubMedID 23836631

  • Weak bed control of the eastern shear margin of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica JOURNAL OF GLACIOLOGY MacGregor, J. A., Catania, G. A., Conway, H., Schroeder, D. M., Joughin, I., Young, D. A., Kempf, S. D., Blankenship, D. D. 2013; 59 (217): 900-912
  • Evidence of a hydrological connection between the ice divide and ice sheet margin in the Aurora Subglacial Basin, East Antarctica JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-EARTH SURFACE Wright, A. P., Young, D. A., Roberts, J. L., Schroeder, D. M., Bamber, J. L., Dowdeswell, J. A., Young, N. W., Le Brocq, A. M., Warner, R. C., Payne, A. J., Blankenship, D. D., van Ommen, T. D., Siegert, M. J. 2012; 117
  • A dynamic early East Antarctic Ice Sheet suggested by ice-covered fjord landscapes NATURE Young, D. A., Wright, A. P., Roberts, J. L., Warner, R. C., Young, N. W., Greenbaum, J. S., Schroeder, D. M., Holt, J. W., Sugden, D. E., Blankenship, D. D., Van Ommen, T. D., Siegert, M. J. 2011; 474 (7349): 72-75

    Abstract

    The first Cenozoic ice sheets initiated in Antarctica from the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains and other highlands as a result of rapid global cooling ∼34 million years ago. In the subsequent 20 million years, at a time of declining atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and an evolving Antarctic circumpolar current, sedimentary sequence interpretation and numerical modelling suggest that cyclical periods of ice-sheet expansion to the continental margin, followed by retreat to the subglacial highlands, occurred up to thirty times. These fluctuations were paced by orbital changes and were a major influence on global sea levels. Ice-sheet models show that the nature of such oscillations is critically dependent on the pattern and extent of Antarctic topographic lowlands. Here we show that the basal topography of the Aurora Subglacial Basin of East Antarctica, at present overlain by 2-4.5 km of ice, is characterized by a series of well-defined topographic channels within a mountain block landscape. The identification of this fjord landscape, based on new data from ice-penetrating radar, provides an improved understanding of the topography of the Aurora Subglacial Basin and its surroundings, and reveals a complex surface sculpted by a succession of ice-sheet configurations substantially different from today's. At different stages during its fluctuations, the edge of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet lay pinned along the margins of the Aurora Subglacial Basin, the upland boundaries of which are currently above sea level and the deepest parts of which are more than 1 km below sea level. Although the timing of the channel incision remains uncertain, our results suggest that the fjord landscape was carved by at least two iceflow regimes of different scales and directions, each of which would have over-deepened existing topographic depressions, reversing valley floor slopes.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature10114

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291156700039

    View details for PubMedID 21637255