ENGS 88 Honors Thesis (AB Students)

Degree Program


Year of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Colin R. Meyer

Document Type

Thesis (Senior Honors)

Publication Date



Currently, there is a global emphasis in finding the oldest ice in Antarctica, which will give the longest climate record contained within the ice. This is fundamental in the field of climate science because it will give scientists a proper baseline to compare it to sediment cores amongst other proxy records and work to determine a more accurate account of climate change. The most promising place to find the oldest ice is within the thick, slow-moving East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Within this ice sheet, there is a thick region of ice that sits on a mountain range known as the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains. This is an important location because regions with steep valleys, like this mountain range, are susceptible to re-circulation of ice flow, better known as Moffatt Eddies, that could significantly impact the climate records contained in proposed ice core drilling sites. Since radar data has limitations in its ability to accurately visualize the characteristics of old ice in thick ice regions, such as in the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, then we need an alternative way to determine the characteristics of the old ice. This is where this project becomes relevant, as it looks to formulate a mathematical model based off certain characteristics of glaciers, such as formation of Moffatt Eddies in sub-glacial mountain valley regions. The aim of this model is to determine the critical angle at which Moffatt eddies form. Once we determine how Moffatt Eddies form, we can better understand how glaciers move and behave under different climate scenarios, which would allow for improved methods of predicting future glacier behavior.