Project Information
Vulnerability of East Antarctic Ice Streams to warm Ocean Water Incursions
Start Date:
End Date:
Project Location(s)
Sabrina Coast
Southern Ocean
Totten Glacier
Intellectual Merit:
This project will determine the potential vulnerability of key ice streams to incursions of warmer ocean water onto the continental shelf and if this mechanism could already explain any of the observed thinning of the ice sheet. It will provide important constrains on ice dynamic of the investigated section of the EAIS, and thus will be critical for future ice sheet models and provide mechanisms for EAIS contributions to past sea level high-stand. The PI proposes to investigate four key ice stream systems on the continental shelf between ~90°E and 160°E. They will use multibeam bathymetry to identify if and where cross-shelf troughs exist to help determine whether these troughs could provide potential pathways for warmer ocean water. Furthermore, detailed analysis of morphological features of these troughs could provide information on past ice dynamic, maximum extent, and flow direction of related paleo ice streams. The PIs will also conduct water column measurements along these troughs and on the continental slope to determine whether warmer ocean water could enter the shelf in the near future, or if such water has already entered any troughs, and thus might be causing the observed thinning of some ice streams.

Broader impacts:
This project includes the participation and support of undergraduate and graduate students in field work and data analysis. The possible involvement of a PolarTREC teacher and the Earth2Class teachers program will reach out to K-12 students.
Person Role
Nitsche, Frank O. Investigator and contact
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 1245879
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Deployment Type
NBP1503 ship expedition
Data Management Plan
Product Level:
Not provided
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
R2R NBP1503 data collected during field expedition None exist
R2R NBP1503 data collected during field expedition None exists/good
  1. Nitsche, F.O., D. Porter, G. Williams, E. A. Cougnon, A. D. Fraser, R. Correia, and R. Guerro. "Bathymetric control of warm ocean water access along the East Antarctic Margin," Geophysical Research Letter, v.44, 2017, p. 8936?8944. (doi:10.1002/2017GL074433)
  2. Williams, G., Maksym, H. Singh, F. Nitsche, and M. Paget. "Drones in a cold climate," EOS, v.97, 2016, p. 17 (doi:10.1029/2016EO043673)
  3. Nitsche, F.O., Correia, R., 2019. East Antarctic ice flow dynamic based on subglacial landforms near Dibble Glacier. Marine Geology 417, 106007. (doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2019.106007)
  4. Nitsche, F. O., Porter, D., Williams, G., Cougnon, E. A., Fraser, A. D., Correia, R., & Guerrero, R. (2017). Bathymetric control of warm ocean water access along the East Antarctic Margin. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(17), 8936–8944. (doi:10.1002/2017gl074433)
Platforms and Instruments

This project has been viewed 24 times since May 2019 (based on unique date-IP combinations)