New project on Thwaites Glacier

Dr Adam Booth will serve as a Co-Investigator of a collaborative research project Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME) involving eleven US and UK scientists.

This project will use precision GPS, seismic, and radar instrumentation to collect new data constraining current behavior and future evolution of the side margins of Thwaites Glacier, which itself drains an area of the West Antarctic ice sheet twice the size of Ireland. These new data will help improve computer models used to predict the future contribution of this ice sheet to global sea level changes.

Thwaites Glacier accelerated recently and it has been called by scientists ‘the weak underbelly’ of the West Antarctic ice sheet that may abruptly increase its contribution to global sea level rise. Yet, this glacier is remote even by Antarctic standards. To unravel its mysteries two of the major research funding agencies in USA and UK, NSF and NERC, are launching the five-year International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). This initiative will support efforts of about hundred scientists from US, UK and five other countries working as part of eight different research projects. These projects will help predict future evolution of Thwaites Glacier and shine light on sensitivity of the Antarctic ice sheet to changes in climate.

Adam Booth said: “It’s extremely exciting to be applying cutting edge geophysical techniques to a globally important challenge - we’re throwing all the seismic expertise we’ve got towards understanding the evolution of Thwaites Glacier! It’s also exciting to be working with such a diverse network of international collaborators.”

The TIME project will be co-lead by Dr Slawek Tulaczyk (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Dr Poul Christoffersen (University of Cambridge, UK) who will also focus on ice penetrating radar data collection with Dr. Dustin Schroder (Stanford University). Seismic investigations will also involve Galen Kaip, Marianne Karplus and Steven Harder (University of Texas, El Paso), as well as Drs. Norimitsu Nakata and Jacob Walters (University of Oklahoma). The development of improved computer models will be executed by Drs. Marion Bougamont (University of Cambridge, UK) and Jenny Suckale (Stanford University).