Up to now, it has been a mystery why much of the fresh water resulting from the melting of Antarctic ice shelves ends up in the depths instead of floating above saltier, denser ocean waters. Scientists working along one major ice shelf believe they have found the answer.
Researchers studying the West Antarctic Peninsula marine ecosystem will recognize President Obama’s efforts to combat global warming by collecting climate data at an oceanographic station they named for the 44th president.
Twenty-three million years ago, the Antarctic Ice Sheet began to shrink, going from an expanse larger than today’s to one about half its modern size. Ancient fossilized leaves retrieved from a lake bed in New Zealand now show for the first time that carbon dioxide levels increased dramatically over a relatively short period of time as the ice sheet began to deteriorate.
We are less than a day away from our first study area on the continental shelf in front of the Dibble Glacier. As we approach Antarctica we are starting our science program with a 4500 meter deep CTD and multibeam acquisition.
We are now aboard the R/V Palmer and on our way to East Antarctica. Due to two storms in our direct way we are heading west first to go around the storms and we’ll then head south on their backside.
For our spring expedition, NBP1503, to the margin of East Antarctica we will live and work on board the United States icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer. Together we are eight scientists, 10 science support staff and 19 crew members of the ship’s crew.
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory scientists are among the many researchers currently doing fieldwork in Antarctica. They’re participating in expeditions near, above and on the continent, doing critical studies that will advance understanding of Antarctica’s land and sea processes.