A small team of scientists ventures out onto the Greenland ice sheet to study the forces large and small that are accelerating the melting of the world’s second-largest ice mass.
polar research Archives - State of the Planet
As climate warms, the Greenland ice sheet is melting, helping to fuel global sea-level rise. Follow a small team of scientists as they hike onto the sheet to investigate the forces large and small that are demolishing the ice.
Lamont’s Robin Bell is living proof of the importance of encouraging young women to study STEM disciplines. Her breakthrough research, fueled by passionate intellectual curiosity, has been critical to understanding our planet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.