site.btaUPDATED Day 81: Geophysicist: Front of Glacier near Bulgarian Antarctic Base Moves 20-30 M/Year
Geophysicist Vasil Gurev told BTA that the front of the glacier nearest to the Bulgarian Antarctic base is moving by up to 20-30 metres per year. Gurev, a member of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute and explorer of the 31st Bulgarian expedition, is working on a two-year project for complex geophysical research on glaciers in the South Bay region and the Bulgarian Antarctic Base St Kliment Ohridiski.
The project, headed by Dr Gergana Georgieva, aims to use ground and satellite data to investigate the movement and dynamics of glaciers flowing into the South Bay of Livingston Island. Planned ground-based measurements include continuous seismic recording at the Bulgarian broadband seismological station LIVV, short seismic records from glaciers in the Bulgarian Antarctic base area, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) measurements, ice collapse recordings and more.
Gurev said that the project involves measuring the rate of movement of certain points atop the glacier and tracking the change in those rates over the years. He clarified: "To do this, we build a field of measuring rails, and we determine the coordinates with very precise GNSS measurements. The following year these measurements are taken again, allowing the annual speeds at which the observation points move to be determined".
The scientist said that they also keep track of the lower part of the glacier, which helped his team discover that the glacier speed spiked dramatically in just a few days from 5 cm per day to 17-18 cm per day. These measurements are an essential part of the study of the glacier's mass balance - at what rate its front reaches the sea and, therefore, what ice mass it loses.
Gurev stressed that within a project of 1-2 years, snapshot estimates can be made, which while valuable cannot be used for serious conclusions about trends in the glacier dynamics. Such conclusions can only be drawn after many years of measurements that typically last at least 10-12 years.
The Bulgarian explorer will continue to monitor the glacier's speed in the coming years. He was optimistic: "Now we have the great scientific chance to make this happen more easily, because now we have our own Bulgarian ship, and the logistics will be much easier".
BTA's Daily News editor Konstantin Karagyozov is the only member of the media who is travelling on board the ship to Livingston Island and back and covered the Bulgarian expedition throughout its stay in Antarctica.
All media outlets can use the Bulgaria-Antarctica BTA's Log for free.