West Antarctica Archives - Page 2 of 2 - State of the Planet

Clock Is Ticking in West Antarctic

“The high-resolution records that we’re getting and the high-resolution models we’re able to make now are sort of moving the questions a little bit closer into human, understandable time frames.”

by |May 23, 2014

The Oden and the Polarstern Cross Paths

We successfully finished our scientific work in the Amundsen Sea and are now heading back to Punta Arenas, at the tip of South America. It will take eight to nine days to get there depending on the weather and winds. Just before we left the Amundsen Sea we passed the German ice-breaker ship, the Polarstern…. read more

by |March 3, 2010

Looking at Mud to Learn About Ice Sheets

The bottom of the seafloor shows us where ice used to flow. To pinpoint when the ice retreated, the geologists on board take samples of mud and sand from the seafloor. Using a weighted steel barrel lowered to the seafloor they bore their way through sand and mud. A catcher at the bottom of the… read more

by |February 26, 2010

Following the Trail of Ancient Icebergs

A few days ago we reached our main study area in the eastern Amundsen Sea. Here we are using sonar to map the contours of the seafloor in great detail. During the last glaciation the Antarctic ice sheet was much larger and covered most of the continental shelf, an underwater extension of the continent that… read more

by |February 21, 2010

So Much Depends on Sea Ice

Where we work and how we get there depends on the sea ice. The Oden is a powerful icebreaker but it is often faster and more fuel-efficient to go around heavy sea ice then to chop our way through. If the sea ice is several feet thick, we often choose to detour. We actually consult… read more

by |February 15, 2010

Is Ocean Water Helping to Melt Glaciers?

After crossing the Ross Sea, we’ve reached our first study area: the “Little America Trough.” The oceanographers on board want to find out if warmer water from the deep ocean is rising onto the continental shelf and reaching the ice, making it melt faster. They measure temperature and salinity as well as the water currents…. read more

by |February 11, 2010

Ready to Sail

Today we arrived at McMurdo, an American research station that hosts Antarctica’s largest community—about 1,000 people during austral summer. To get here, a US Air Force cargo plane picked us up in Christchurch, New Zealand, and landed us on the ice nearby. Today is a balmy summer day of 30°F, not much colder than the… read more

by |February 6, 2010

Melting Glaciers–Tracking Their Path

I am a geophysicist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and I study how different processes shape the bottom of oceans and rivers. One focus of my research is the continental shelves off Antarctica, especially in the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Sea, and the role of ice sheets in their formation. I made my first trip to… read more

by |February 4, 2010