News

New film highlights Thwaites Glacier and sea-level rise for COP26

News from the ITGC

As world leaders come together next month for the 26th UN Climate Change Talks of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, sea-level rise will be on the agenda for countries with low-lying areas looking at how to manage rising seas.
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Antarctic glacier may be more stable than initially feared

DOMINOS, News from the ITGC

Study published in Science sheds light on the future of the massive Thwaites Glacier and other ice sheets.
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Exploring Antarctica's Upside Down World



Writer Douglas Fox accompanied ITGC researchers into the field in 2019/2020, where he witnessed TARSAN scientists Erin Pettit, Ted Scambos, MELT scientist Britney Schmidt, and others drill into the Thwaites Glacier ice shelf to learn about the shelf's properties and its thickness. What surprised the team the most was the vast amount of life under the shelf. 
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The ‘Cliff Notes’ on ice-cliff failure

Blog Post



The retreat of large glaciers that drain the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could expose immense ice-cliffs at newly-bared calving faces, which are the exposed ends of glaciers where, in these cases, glacier ice meets the ocean. Past a certain height, these ice cliffs will become susceptible to collapsing from high stresses, a process known as structural ice-cliff failure. Read more in this blog post that describes recent research published in Nature Communications.
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New modeling of Antarctic Ice Sheet shows rapid and unstoppable sea-level rise if Paris Agreement not met

From the ITGC

New research on the Antarctic Ice Sheet describes that sea-level could rise 17-24 cm if the Paris Agreement goals are not met. If the world exceeds three degrees Celsius of global warming, there will be rapid and unstoppable sea-level rise by 2100 and if the rate of global warming continues on its current trajectory, a tipping point will be reached by 2060, past which these consequences would be “irreversible on multi-century timescales.”
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Underwater robot reveals how warm water is melting Thwaites Glacier



For the first time, researchers have collected data from underneath the remote Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica using an underwater robot. Findings reveal that the supply of warm water to the glacier is larger than previously thought, triggering concerns of faster melting and accelerating ice flow. The findings are published this week (10 April 2021) in the journal Science Advances.
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Celebrating International Women's Day



On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2021, we mark and celebrate the women working as part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC).
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Satellite reveals surprising ebb and flow of subglacial lakes under Thwaites Glacier



Hidden from view by ice kilometres thick, there is a vast network of lakes and streams under the Antarctic ice sheet. Using a decade of altimetry data from European Space Agency’s (ESA) CryoSat satellite, researchers at the University of Edinburgh, including a scientist with the PROPHET project of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), have made an unexpected discovery about how lakes beneath Thwaites Glacier drain and recharge in quick succession.
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Learn about life in Antarctica from the Antarctica Week Festival 2020



Calling all schools and home-schoolers! We are delighted to bring you the Antarctica Week Festival 2020 where you can hear what it's like to live and work in Antarctica.
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Deep channels link ocean to Antarctic glacier

From the ITGC

Newly discovered deep seabed channels beneath Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica may be the pathway for warm ocean water to melt the underside of the ice.
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Plans for International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration in response to COVID-19

From the ITGC

The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC) announces news on the forthcoming field season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The substantial programme of ice-based science planned by ITGC in central West Antarctica for 2020/21 has been postponed, as announced by the logistics organizations that support the fieldwork.
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New Sights in the Second Field Season of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration

From the ITGC

The sheer scale of the glacier captivated Ted Scambos as he looked on from his plane window, thousands of feet above the ice. The widest glacier in the world, the frozen white Antarctic landscape of Thwaites seemed to stretch on forever—an area as large as Florida, and a mile or more thick.
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Diagnosing Thwaites

From Eos Magazine

The American Geophysical Union featured our Thwaites research on the cover of its March 2020 Eos magazine. Read more about the recent field season.
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THOR research onboard the N.B. Palmer icebreaker through March 2020

Blog Post



The Thwaites Glacier Offshore Research (THOR) team set sail from Punta Arenas, Chile, on January 26, 2020 and is conducting research in the Amundsen Sea off the coast of Thwaites Glacier. During their 60-day cruise on the US icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer, the team is collecting sediment samples on the ocean floor beneath them, water samples, ocean temperature measurements, and mapping the seafloor to better understand changes to the area over recent and geologic time.
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Antarctica melting: Climate change and the journey to the 'doomsday glacier'

From BBC News

BBC News Chief Environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, visited Thwaites Glacier with scientists from the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration during the 2019-2020 field season. He reports on recent research on the glacier and some of the discoveries.
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Scientists drill for first time on remote Antarctic Glacier

From the ITGC

Press Release:  For Immediate Release Tuesday 28 January 2020 6am GMT Teams from the US and UK have successfully completed scientific fieldwork in one of the most remote and hostile areas of West Antarctica – coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the continent. This research will help scientists determine whether Thwaites Glacier may collapse in the next few decades and affect future global sea-level rise.
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Undergraduate students contribute to Thwaites Glacier research

From the ITGC

Seven undergraduate engineering students at the University of Colorado Boulder spent a year working as part of the Thwaites-Amundsen Regional Survey and Network (TARSAN) project team for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). The TARSAN project team is studying how atmospheric and oceanic processes are influencing the behavior of Thwaites Glacier and nearby Dotson Ice Shelf.
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New study provides first evidence that thinning Antarctic ice shelves instantaneously result in more ice into the sea

From the ITGC

Researchers have produced the first physics-based quantifiable evidence that thinning ice shelves all around Antarctica result in an instantaneous response sending more ice flowing from the land into the ocean. Their findings have been published in Geophysical Research Letters.
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Scientists Are Racing to Figure Out Why This Giant Glacier in Antarctica Is Melting So Fast

From Live Science

Live Science reports on recent research at Thwaites Glacier. The glacier could be "a keystone to triggering ice loss from neighboring portions of West Antarctica," said Paul Cutler, program director of glaciology, ice core science and geomorphology at the National Science Foundation. "The question is, how much sea level rise, and how fast?"
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US PolarTREC teacher blogs about upcoming research cruise with THOR project, January 2020

Blog Post



Join teacher Sarah Slack as she writes about her experience as an NSF PolarTREC teacher on board the Nathaniel B. Palmer research vessel. The Palmer departs Punta Arenas, Chile, on January 26, 2020, bound for the Amundsen Sea waters off the coast of the Thwaites Glacier.
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GHC update from the field 29 Dec 2019

Blog Post



The GHC team in the Hudson Mountains seem to have all the luck with weather and logistics this year. The team, consisted of two scientists, Professor John Woodward, a glaciologist and geophysicist from Northumbria University and Dr Jo Johnson, a geologist from the British Antarctic Survey, supported by two Field Guides, Ash Fusiarski and Tom King.
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Submarine to explore why Antarctic ice is melting so quickly

From The Guardian

From the Guardian: An international team of scientists has reached the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica and is preparing to drill through more than half a kilometre of ice into the dark waters beneath. The 600-metre deep borehole will allow researchers to lower down a torpedo-shaped robotic submarine that will explore the underside of the ice shelf to better understand why it is melting so fast.
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TIME update from the field 26 Dec 2019

Blog Post



Greetings from WAIS Divide. Jake Walter here, co-I on the TIME project, which is part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). I am the State Seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey and they have loaned me out to the project to lead the field team this season.
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'The closest thing on Earth to interplanetary travel'

From BBC News

Finding out how fast Antarctic ice is melting is critical to understanding the scale of the climate crisis. The BBC's chief environmental correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, is therefore joining scientists as they check the health of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. But first he has to undergo some checks himself.
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MELT Team at WAIS Divide with Icefin robotic underwater vehicle

Blog Post



Scientists from the MELT project are in Antarctica this field season. The team aims to use autonomous sensors, vehicles (including Icefin), radar, and moorings to monitor the Thwaites ice shelf and grounding line. The team keeps a blog about the Icefin autonomous underwater vehicle: a small, long-range, deep-water, under-ice, robotic oceanographer. 
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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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Recent update from the ITGC

Blog Post



It has been a busy autumn (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). And it is about to get much, much busier. Meetings have been held, bags have been packed, travel has begun, and preparations are well underway for the upcoming field season, which commences this month in Antarctica.
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Antarctica Week - connecting schools and researchers

From the ITGC

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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Thwaites Glacier: Antarctica’s wild card

From the ITGC

Nearly 100 scientists and staff from around the world, including University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and CIRES scientist Ted Scambos, departed last month to conduct fieldwork in one of the most remote and inhospitable areas on Earth: Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. Their aim?
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Q & A with Tasha Snow

From the ITGC

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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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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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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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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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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