polar research Archives - State of the Planet

The Melting of the Greenland Ice, Seen Up Very Close

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.

by |October 1, 2018

Photo Essay: Melting Greenland, Up Close

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.

by |October 1, 2018
Robin Bell

Wonder Woman: Lamont Polar Pioneer Robin Bell

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.

by |March 8, 2018

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

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

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

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