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Exploring Antarctic subglacial lakes with scientific probes: a formal probabilistic approach for operational risk management
Authors: Brito MP, Griffiths G and Mowlem M
Year: 2012
Periodical/Journal: Journal of Glaciology
Volume: 58
Number: 212
Page Range: 1085-1097

Since their discovery, Antarctic subglacial lakes have become of great interest to the science community. It is hypothesized that they may hold unique forms of biological life and that they hold detailed sedimentary records of past climate change. According to the latest inventory, a total of 387 subglacial lakes have been identified in Antarctica (Wright and Siegert, 2011). However, exploration using scientific probes has yet to be performed. We propose a generic, formal approach to manage the operational risk of deploying probes during clean access to subglacial lake exploration. A representation of the entire probe deployment process is captured in a Markov chain. The transition from one state to the next depends on several factors, including reliability of components and processes. We use fault trees to quantify the probability of failure of the complex processes that must take place to facilitate the transition from one state to another. Therefore, the formal framework consists of integrating a Markov chain, fault trees, component and subsystem reliability data and expert judgment. To illustrate its application we describe how the approach can be used to address a series of what-if scenarios, using the intended Ellsworth Subglacial Lake probe deployment as a case study.

DOI: 10.3189/2012JoG12J007
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