Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution - The Role of Shear Margin Dynamics in the Future Evolution of Thwaites Drainage Basin

Principal investigator

Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could raise the global sea level by about 5 meters (16 feet) and the scientific community considers it the most significant risk for coastal environments and cities. The risk arises from the deep, marine setting of WAIS. Although scientists have been aware of the precarious setting of this ice sheet since the early 1970s, it is only now that the flow of ice in several large drainage basins is undergoing dynamic change consistent with a potentially irreversible disintegration. Understanding WAIS stability and enabling more accurate prediction of sea level rise through computer simulation are two of the key objectives facing the polar science community today. The TIME project will directly address both objectives by: (1) using state-of-the-art technologies to observe rapidly deforming parts of Thwaites Glacier which may have significant control over the future evolution of WAIS, and (2) using these new observations to improve ice sheet models used to predict future sea level rise. The TIME project brings together a multidisciplinary team of UK and US scientists. This international collaboration will result in new understanding of natural processes that may lead to the collapse of the WAIS and will boost infrastructure for research and education by creating a multidisciplinary network of scientists.