The image above shows a radar profile of the ice as recorded on January 1, 2009, on the south side of Dome A in the Gamburtsevs. The base of the image reveals the rugged land beneath the ice, while the upper edge shows the flat, annual layering typical of ice formation from the top. In between, there is a jumbled mess unlike anything researchers had seen before.
When the science team first examined their radar profiles in real time, they thought there was a mistake, a glitch in the instrument or data. Perhaps the science team was just too tired from the long, cold flights. But further analysis confirmed what they were seeing.
“We usually think of ice sheets like cakes—one layer at a time, added from the top,” said Robin Bell, a geophysicist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “This is like someone injected a layer of frosting at the bottom—a really thick layer.”
via Earth Observatory