News

Scientists embark on ambitious mission to Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier

From the ITGC

Press release from the ITGC November 13, 2019: For immediate release
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Antarctica Week - connecting schools and researchers



The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration is pairing school classrooms with Antarctic experts to talk about research in Antarctica and what it is like to work in one of the coldest places on Earth! For more information about this event, visit our Antarctica Week 2019 page. US Teachers: the deadline for the 2019 event has passed and the event is full.
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Q & A with Tasha Snow



Glaciologist Tasha Snow spent 55 days at sea learning about Thwaites Glacier. Hear what she says upon returning to dry land in the National Snow and Ice Data Center Highlight.
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Briefing UK policymakers about Thwaites Glacier



Sea-level rise from Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica was the subject of a special briefing to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions in the Palace of Westminster, hosted by MP James Gray, on Wednesday 12 June. Around 50 parliamentarians and policy makers involved in polar affairs attended the afternoon briefing by Principal Investigators of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), which is funded by NERC and the US National Science Foundation.
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These high-tech seals are charting future sea level rise



High-tech seals gather data to help predict the future of Thwaites Glacier, by Carolyn Beeler of Public Radio International: The World.
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On a journey to Antarctica, a New Orleans chef awakens to the threat of melting ice



A two-month stint as a research-vessel cook was Jack Gilmore's first trip outside of the United States, by Carolyn Beeler of Public Radio International: The World.
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Journey to Antarctica: What We Learned in the Ice



Jeff Goodell looks back on his two-month voyage to Thwaites Glacier in Rolling Stone magazine.
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Snow on Ice: Sea pigs and mud #10

Blog Post



“We found a sea pig last night in one of the Megacore tubes,” Jennie Mowatt, a marine technician onboard, nonchalantly said as she passed around a video on her cell phone for all of the scientists in the meeting. With my late-night schedule, I had literally just thrown myself down from my top rack (bunk on the ship), gotten dressed and walked a couple rooms down to join our daily 0830 science planning meeting, eyes barely starting to open and adjust to the light.
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Antarctica Dispatch 9: Thoughts on climate change and returning home



Researchers aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer look forward to returning home, by Carolyn Beeler of Public Radio International: The World.
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Journey to Antarctica: Is This What a Climate Catastrophe Looks Like in Real Time?



The Thwaites Glacier is changing rapidly, by Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone magazine.
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Snow on Ice: Synergizing Science #9

Blog Post



The crane lowered the little orange submarine until it finally touched down snuggly onto its ramp on the back deck of the Palmer. Behind it, the overcast, foggy skies blended into the glacier front a few kilometers away and down to the rest of the ocean surrounding us. As soon as the Hugin rested in its aluminum cradle, Anna Wåhlin, eyes bright and a devious smile beaming across her face, gave a giant high five to Aleksandra Mazur.
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Antarctica dispatch 8: Behold grease, shuga and pancake ice

From PRI's The World

Carolyn Beeler of PRI's The World reports: The research team aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer is starting to wrap up their work studying Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. As the Amundsen Sea starts to freeze up, the captain of the ship will be constantly on the lookout for gaps in the ice that will carry the ship home.
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Journey to Antarctica: The Dark Art of Coring

From Rolling Stone

Retrieving good mud from the bottom of the ocean is just the beginning of telling a story about Antarctica, by Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone magazine.
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Snow on Ice: When in Antarctica: the backup to the backup #8

Blog Post



“I think the secret to the work we do in many ways is as much as possible beforehand, asking the question, ‘what if, what if, what if.…’” Andy Smith, a principal investigator on the ITGC GHOST project, commented about working in Antarctica’s isolated and difficult outback. “You have to get used to the fact that you can have a wonderful plan on paper, and it’ll change completely when you’re actually trying to achieve it.” Looking back on our cruise, this mantra has unquestionably held true.
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Journey to Antarctica: Icy Subterranean Homesick Blues

From Rolling Stone

Crew and researchers on the Nathaniel B. Palmer compete in a ping pong tournament in the Amundsen Sea, by Jeff Goodell from Rolling Stone magazine.
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These women are changing the landscape of Antarctic research

From National Geographic

These women are changing the landscape of Antarctic research. Polar science used to be dominated by men. An expedition to Thwaites Glacier is helping change that. Elizabeth Rush reports in National Geographic.
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Antarctica Dispatch 7: Under Thwaites Glacier

From PRI's The World

The World's Carolyn Beeler reports on her latest dispatch from a research trip to Antarctica. Climate change researchers aboard the icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer sent a robotic submarine for the first look ever at the seafloor under the massive Thwaites Glacier.
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Snow on Ice: Geology with a Spoon #7

Blog Post



While the seal team sat on one of the smaller Shaeffer Islands tagging their second and third seals (described in a previous blog post), GHC scientists, Scott Braddock and Meghan Spoth from the University of Maine, dug through ancient beaches for the Geological History Constraints (GHC) project of the International Thwaites Glacier Col
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Journey to Antarctica: Mapping Thwaites

From Rolling Stone

Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone magazine reports on why mapping the sea floor in front of Thwaites glacier is so important.
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Journey to Antarctica: Face-to-Face With the Doomsday Glacier

From Rolling Stone

Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone magazine reports from the ITGC research cruise: “For me, it’s hard to envisage something so big, so permanent, so vast, to be as fragile as it is,” scientist says in regards to first contact with Thwaites glacier.
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Antarctica Dispatch 6: First sight of Thwaites — mapping uncharted seafloor

From PRI's The World

Carolyn Beeler of PRI's The World reports that the Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer arrived at Thwaites Glacier on Feb. 26, roughly a month after leaving Punta Arenas, Chile. During its first day in front of the glacier, the Palmer traced a roughly 100-mile path around the edge of Thwaites mapping portions of the sea floor that were previously uncharted.
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Snow on Ice: Seals help scientists explore Thwaites Glacier #6

Blog Post



Calling it seal tagging doesn’t really put the right image in your mind. I had pictured a seal with a small plastic tag attached to its body like you’d see on a cow or pig ear. Seeing it in person was a surprise. Imagine a 600 lb (300 kg) Weddell seal with big dark eyes, a small radio glued to the top of its head, and a black antenna poking up like a single antler.
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Antarctica Dispatch 5: Detour, with scenery

From PRI's The World

A medical emergency aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer sends the ship and reporter Carolyn Beeler back north just as they’re about to reach the Thwaites Glacier.
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Journey to Antarctica: Reckoning With Uncertainty

From Rolling Stone

A conversation with chief scientist Rob Larter onboard the US icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer about the existential guessing game at the bottom of the world, as Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone magazine reports.
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Antarctica Dispatch 4: Fieldwork begins, cue the seals

From PRI's The World

​​​​​​​How quickly will Antarctica’s massive Thwaites Glacier melt, and what will that mean for global sea levels and coastal cities? Researchers are sailing toward Thwaites this month on the first leg of a five-year, international effort to try to answer that pressing question, and along the way they’re enlisting local seals as research assistants. Reporting by Carolyn Beeler of PRI's The World.
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Journey to Antarctica: An Emergency at Sea

From Rolling Stone

A medical crisis onboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer results in a detour to Rothera Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. Safety of all personnel is paramount on Antarctic missions, as Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone magazine reports.
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Snow on Ice: Ice above, warm water below #5

Blog Post



As we travel among the Thwaites menagerie of giant icebergs, it’s hard to believe that a thousand feet below the ship sits warm water. This ocean layer, moving slowly toward the base of the ice deep beneath the floating ice shelves has led to faster ice flow, thinning, and more frequent giant calving events at some of the Antarctic outlet glaciers.
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Antarctica Dispatch 3: The ship's first encounters with icebergs

From PRI's The World

Carolyn Beeler of PRI's The World radio broadcast reports on the first icebergs seen from the US icebreaker R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer sailing in Antarctica.  
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Snow on Ice: Into the Ice #4

Blog Post



“Iceberg! Starboard beam.” I was sitting at my computer typing and I think it took a second to sink in for me and everyone else in the room.
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Journey to Antarctica: How Scientists Are Using Seals to Measure the Warming Ocean

From Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone's Jeff Goodell is onboard the US Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer. About 50 seals are collecting essential data on water temperatures deep beneath the ice to help scientists understand how ocean temperatures and currents impact ice shelves.  
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Antarctica Dispatch 2: Crossing the Drake Passage

From PRI's The World

Carolyn Beeler of PRI's The World radio broadcast describes crossing the Drake Passage onboard the US icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer.
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Journey to Antarctica: How I Survived Drake Passage

ITGC In the News
Rolling Stone's Jeff Goodell is onboard the US Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer. His fourth dispatch describes crossing the renowned Drake Passage.   
From Rolling Stone
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Journey to Antarctica: How Does One Navigate the Wildest Waves in the Southern Ocean?

ITGC In the News
Writing from the US Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer, Rolling Stone's Jeff Goodell confronts the raw power of the sea through the Drake Passage. 
From Rolling Stone
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Journey to Antarctica: How We’ll See Deep Beneath the Ice

From Rolling Stone

From the US icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer, Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone writes about research using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, or AUV, called the HUGIN, to study ocean conditions offshore of the Thwaites Glacier.
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Antarctica Dispatch 1: Gearing up and shipping out

From PRI's The World

Carolyn Beeler of PRI's The World radio broadcast is onboard the US research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer. Her first dispatch comes from the port of Punta Arenas, Chile, on the Strait of Magellan.
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Snow on Ice: The little orange submarine #3

Blog Post



The ship bobbed lazily in the Straits of Magellan, ringed by the snow-capped mountains of the far southern Andes, the sun becoming quite warm, the water still as glass. You can imagine what song was stuck in my head as we stood on the 01 Deck looking out at the stern of the ship where the HUGIN Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) sat waiting to be deployed. It is an orange, not yellow, torpedo-shaped submarine, and unlike the one from the famous Beatles song, it is definitely uninhabitable.
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Snow on Ice: Setting Sail #2

Blog Post



We arrived into Punta Arenas on January 26th and met our US Antarctic Program (USAP) representative, Maribel. During our short time in Punta Arenas, we received our polar gear for the trip, participated in mandatory training sessions, and boarded the N. B. Palmer the next evening. We were underway soon thereafter, a day earlier than expected, to go to the refueling pier on the other side of town.
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Journey to Antarctica: Jeff Goodell Begins His Trip to Thwaites Glacier

From Rolling Stone

Jeff Goodell of the Rolling Stone is onboard the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer, which is exploring Antarctica to investigate the nightmare scenario of melting ice that could spell disaster for a warming planet. His first dispatch covers the beginning of the 53-day research expedition by sea.
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Snow on Ice: Headed south #1

Blog Post



Join Tasha Snow as she reports life on the N.B. Palmer on a research voyage to Amundsen Sea.
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Seals to act as sentinels of remote Antarctic glacier



A team of over 20 polar scientists from the UK, US and Sweden set sail this week (29 January) on the first ship-based research expedition to Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica as part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. This cruise is part of a five-year project to understand the contribution that the glacier will make to global sea level.
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Laying the Groundwork for Some Major Antarctic Field Campaigns

From the Earth Institute at Columbia University

A British Antarctic Survey team is completing final preparations to fly 10 flights, collecting 40 hours and over 9000 kilometers of air survey mapping flights to support the large Antarctic International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC) project.
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THOR blog - Cruise offshore of Thwaites Glacier

Blog Post



Seven researchers from the Thwaites Offshore Research team embark on a 53-day cruise in the Amundsen Sea to study the ocean off of the Thwaites Glacier. Read about THOR's Cruise News.
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Airlift and overland traverse stage fuel, science gear in West Antarctica



Beginning in late November of 2018, a huge effort started to place fuel and materiel at key locations in West Antarctica and on Thwaites Glacier, in preparation for the main ITGC field science effort set to begin less than a year from now. Exploratory field work and landings at the key research sites have established preliminary field camps and surveyed the ice there.
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Essential cargo delivered for science on Thwaites Glacier

From BAS

The British Antractic Survey’s vessel RRS Ernest Shackleton teamed up with the Royal Navy survey ship HMS Protector to help scientists begin a five-year mission  to understand how West Antarctica is contributing to global sea-level rise. Working together the ships crunched their way through over 300 miles of sea ice to a remote Antarctic ice shelf to support a team of around 100 scientists who seek to understand a glacier the size of Great Britain.
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TIME blog 2018-2019

Blog Post



Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME) is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Environment Research Council (NERC) to study the Eastern Shear Margin of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. The project is trying to better understand the response of the glacier to changes in climate and the contributions to sea level rise of this collapsing glacier.
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Ambitious UK-US Antarctic research mission begins


A team of UK and U.S. polar scientists are about to embark on one of the largest joint Antarctic missions for more than 70 years.

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Antarctica Day 2018

News

Registration for Antarctica Day is now closed, and the team is working on pairing schools with experts. We will contact the participating schools with more information the week of 19 November.
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Instrument Highlight: Phase-sensitive radar (ApRES), Filchner Ice Shelf

Blog Post



Research teams use phase-sensitive radars for determining ice shelf basal melt rates.  Data is used to enhance climate models. The ApRES instruments yield time series of ice shelf thickness change at precisions of ~1 mm.  Measurements taken over a 10-day period will generate information about derived melt rate of a few cm per annum or better. The is used improve the performance of  ocean models.
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UK and US join forces to understand how quickly a massive Antarctic glacier could collapse


A joint UK-US research programme launched today (Monday 30 April) is one of the most detailed and extensive examinations of a massive Antarctic glacier ever undertaken. The collapse of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica could significantly affect global sea levels. It already drains an area roughly the size of Britain or the US state of Florida, accounting for around four per cent of global sea-level rise —an amount that has doubled since the mid-1990s.

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