IPY: Flow Dynamics of the Amundsen Sea Glaciers: Thwaites and Pine Island.
This award supports a project to study ice sheet history and dynamics on the Thwaites Glacier and Pine Island Glacier in the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The international collaboration that has been established with the British Antarctic Survey will enable a fuller suite of geophysical experiments with more-efficient use of people and logistics than we could achieve individually. This project is one of a number of projects to characterize the Amundsen Sea Embayment, which has been identified in numerous planning documents as perhaps the most important target for ice-dynamical research. Taken together, this "pulse of activity" will result in a better understanding of this important part of the global system. Field work will measure the subglacial environment of Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers using three powerful, but relatively simple tools: reflection seismic imaging, GPS motion monitoring of the tidal forcing, and passive seismic monitoring of the seismicity associated with motion. The results of the field work will feed into ice-sheet modeling efforts that are tuned to the case of an ocean-terminating glacier and will assess the influence of these glaciers on current sea level and project into the future. The broader impacts of the project involve the inclusion of a film- and audio-professional to document the work for informal outreach (public radio and TV; museums). In addition, we will train graduate students in polar geophysical and glaciological research and in numerical modeling techniques. The ultimate goal of this project, of assessing the role of Thwaites Glacier in global sea level change, has broad societal impact in coastal regions and small islands.
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