Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
06 Apr 2016
 | 06 Apr 2016

Subglacial landforms beneath Rutford Ice Stream, Antarctica: detailed bed topography from ice-penetrating radar

Edward C. King, Hamish D. Pritchard, and Andrew M. Smith

Abstract. We present a digital elevation model of the bed of Rutford Ice Stream, Antarctica, derived from radio-echo sounding data. The data cover an 18  ×  40 km area immediately upstream of the grounding line of the ice stream. This area is of particular interest because repeated seismic surveys have shown that rapid erosion and deposition of subglacial sediments has taken place. The bed topography shows a range of different subglacial landforms including mega-scale glacial lineations, drumlins and hummocks. This data set will form a baseline survey which, when compared to future surveys, should reveal how active subglacial landscapes change over time. These data also allow comparison between subglacial landforms in an active system with those observed in deglaciated areas in both polar regions. The data set comprises observed ice thickness data, an interpolated bed elevation grid, observed surface elevation data and a surface elevation grid. The data set is available at

Short summary
Large, fast-moving glaciers create long, linear mounds of sediments covering large areas. Understanding how these features form has been hampered by a lack of data from the bed of modern-day ice sheets. We give a detailed view of the landscape beneath an Antarctic glacier called Rutford Ice Stream. We towed a radar system back and forth across the glacier to measure the ice thickness every few metres. This is the first place such a highly detailed view of the sub-ice landscape has been created.