polar research

Team members taking a short ice core to study properties of sediment coming from the East Antarctic ice sheet. (Photo: Mike Kaplan)

East Antarctic Ice Sheet Should Remain Stable Even if the West Melts

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.

by |August 18, 2017
Scientists have discovered that seasonally flowing streams fringe much of Antarctica’s ice. Each red ‘X’ represents a separate drainage. Up to now, such features were thought to exist mainly on the far northerly Antarctic Peninsula (upper left). Their widespread presence signals that the ice may be more vulnerable to melting than previously thought. (Adapted from Kingslake et al., Nature 2017)

Water Is Streaming Across 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.

by |April 19, 2017
Antarctic ice video

Exploring Beneath Earth’s Changing Ice Sheets

If just the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea level by 6 meters. That’s more than a theoretical problem. West Antarctica is losing ice mass, and scientists are worried.

by |November 24, 2015
Antarctica, NBP1503 science team

Smooth Sailing Back to Tasmania

After a surprisingly smooth crossing of the Southern Ocean, with favorable winds we arrived back in Hobart, Tasmania. The weather maps show that we just got ahead of another big storm system.

by |May 1, 2015
NB Palmer, West Antarctica, CTD system

Taking a 4,000-Meter-Deep Profile of Antarctic Waters

In addition to understanding potential pathways for “warmer” circumpolar deep water to reach the ice shelf, we are also measuring what the structure and properties of the water column are and determining if there is already warmer water on or near the continental shelf that could already interact with the glaciers of East Antarctica today.

by |April 27, 2015
In addition to depth, we can identify many features in the high-resolution multibeam data that we produce. Most of the seafloor near the shelf break (where the water is between 300 and 500 meters deep) is covered with these irregular furrows that are created when large icebergs are grounded here.

Mapping the Seafloor

One of the goals of this expedition is to investigate if water from the Southern Ocean with temperatures above the melting point of glaciers could reach the glaciers in East Antarctica, and if there are any obstacles on the seafloor of the shelf that impact the ability of such water to reach the glaciers and ice streams.

by |April 20, 2015
Some examples of the sea ice that we have encountered so far. Top left: bands of grease ice, Top right: small pancake ice merged together; bottom left: larger pancake ice; bottom right: The Nathaniel B. Palmer steaming through dense sea ice cover.

In the Ice

Several days ago we reached our main work areas along the margin of East Antarctica. Our expedition is relatively late in the season and the seas around Antarctica are starting to freeze.

by |April 10, 2015
Polar scientist Robin Bell in the field.

Celebrate Earth Day with Extreme Science

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientist Robin Bell will participate in a Google+ Hangout hosted by the White House on Tuesday, April 22 at 4:00 p.m. EDT. Bell, who will join the Hangout from New Zealand, is a polar scientist who studies sub-glacial lakes, ice sheet dynamics and tectonics in Earth’s polar regions.

by |April 22, 2014
The new Common Science Support Pod (CSSP) Ice Imaging System for Monitoring Changing Ice Sheets (IcePod) instrument designed by Lamont's Polar Geophysics Group.

Welcoming a New Instrument for ‘Probing’ the Polar Regions

In 2009 it was just a dream. But creative vision, sweat equity, good partnerships and funding can bring dreams to reality, and 2013 delivered. It was four years ago that a small team of Lamont scientists, polar geophysicist Robin Bell, engineer Nick Frearson and ocean climate physicist Chris Zappa, began discussions of an instrument that could be used to collect measurements on polar ice during routine field-support flights in both the Arctic and Antarctic. It’s called the IcePod.

by |January 24, 2013
cc_polar_feat

Polar Climate Change Education Partnership Receives $5.6 Million Grant

The Columbia Climate Center led PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership receives a $5.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), one of six awards under the Climate Change Education Partnership-Phase II program.

by |August 17, 2012