The word “crevasse” sends shivers down the spine of anyone who works on a glacier. Sometimes hundreds of feet deep and hidden beneath a thin layer of snow, these cracks have claimed the lives of many polar explorers and scientists. They also appear quite frequently in our sensors as we fly our survey flights for Rosetta-Ice.
For scientists mapping Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf, data collection flights require a demanding schedule: The day starts at 4am and sometimes continues throughout the night.
Even though our tent is within a short drive of McMurdo (a small town with most of the safety and logistical equipment on the entire continent), we still need to prepare ourselves for sudden, extreme weather. Every time we leave the relative safety of McMurdo, we carry our Extreme Cold Weather equipment and our tent has emergency food and sleeping equipment.
With the Rosetta-Ice team delayed in New Zealand, let’s take a minute to discuss why Antarctica’s weather is so forbidding.
We have embarked! Our third Antarctic field season is underway, putting us only 18 flights away from completing our mission to map the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest ice shelf in Antarctica.
A new look inside the ice sheet validates predictions that it probably won’t melt as quickly as its neighbor—good news, since East Antarctica contains enough water to raise sea levels by 200 feet.
One of the largest icebergs ever – roughly the size of Delaware – just broke off of Antarctica, according to scientists who have been observing the area for years. While it’s not unusual for ice shelves to calve, many in the climate community fear that the breaking of Larsen C may be a signal of other events to come.
In recent years, scientists have discovered hundreds of lakes lying hidden deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Now a team of researchers has found the remains of at least one sub-ice lake that existed when the ice was far more extensive, in sediments on the Antarctic continental shelf.
This past winter, reporters from the New York Times went along for the ride with scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory as they flew their mission of discovery over Antarctica.
In the first such continent-wide survey, scientists have found extensive drainages of meltwater flowing over parts of Antarctica’s ice during the brief summer. Many of the newly mapped drainages are not new, but the fact they exist at all is significant; they appear to proliferate with small upswings in temperature, so warming projected for this century could quickly magnify their influence on sea level.