Project Information
Ice sheet Dynamics and Processes along the West Antarctic Continental Shelf
Short Title:
Ice sheet Dynamics and Processes along the West Antarctic Continental Shelf
Start Date:
End Date:
Project Location(s)
Amundsen Sea
Pine Island Bay
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is believed to be vulnerable to climate change as it is grounded below sea level, is drained by rapidly flowing ice streams and is fringed by floating ice shelves subject to melting by incursions of relatively warm Antarctic circumpolar water. Currently, the most rapidly thinning glaciers in Antarctica occur in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Sea sectors. This study seeks to place the present day observations into a longer-term geological context over a broad scale by high-resolution swath bathymetric mapping of continental shelf sea floor features that indicate past ice presence and behavior. Gaps in existing survey coverage of glacial lineations and troughs indicating ice flow direction and paleo-grounding zone wedges over the Ross, Amundsen and Bellingshausen Sea sectors are targeted. The surveys will be conducted as part of the 2010 Icebreaker Oden science opportunity and will take advantage of the vessel?s state-of-the-art swath mapping system.

Broader impacts:
This activity will supplement and complement more focused regional studies by US, Swedish, UK, French, Japanese and Polish collaborators also sailing on the Oden. The PI will compile bathymetric data to be acquired by the Oden and other ships in the region over the duration of the project into the existing bathymetric data base. The compiled data set will be made publically available through the NSF founded Antarctic Multibeam Bathymetry and Geophysical Data Synthesis (AMBS) site. It will also be integrated into the GEBCO International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) and so significantly improve the basis for ship navigation in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. Undergraduate students will be involved in the research under supervision of the PI via the Lamont summer internship program. The PI is a young investigator and this will be his first NSF grant as a PI.
Person Role
Nitsche, Frank O. Investigator and contact
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 0838735
Deployment Type
OSO0910 ship expedition
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Repository Title (link) Status
MGDS Bathymetry compilation of Pine Island Bay, Amundsen Sea, Antarctica exist
MGDS Expedition Data exist
  1. Jakobsson, M., Anderson, J.B., Nitsche, F.O., Dowdeswell, J.A., Gyllencreutz, R., Kirchner, N., Mohammad, R., O’Regan, M., Alley, R.B., Anandakrishnan, S., Eriksson, B., Kirshner, A., Fernandez, R., Stolldorf, T., Minzoni, R., Majewski, W., 2011. Geological record of ice shelf break-up and grounding line retreat, Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica. Geology 39, 691–694. (doi:10.1130/g32153.1)
  2. Nitsche, F.O., Gohl, K., Larter, R.D., Hillenbrand, C.D., Kuhn, G., Smith, J.A., Jacobs, S., Anderson, J.B., Jakobsson, M., 2013. Paleo ice flow and subglacial meltwater dynamics in Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica. The Cryosphere 7, 249–262. (doi:10.5194/tc-7-249-2013)
  3. Nitsche, F. O., Larter, R. D., Gohl, K., Graham, A. G., & Kuhn, G. (2016). Crag-and-tail features on the Amundsen Sea continental shelf, West Antarctica. Geological Society, London, Memoirs, 46(1), 199-200. (doi:10.1144/M46.2)
  4. Graham, Alastair GC, Martin Jakobsson, Frank O. Nitsche, Robert D. Larter, John B. Anderson, C-D. Hillenbrand, Karsten Gohl, Johann Philipp Klages, James A. Smith, and Adrian Jenkins. "Submarine glacial-landform distribution across the West Antarctic margin, from grounding line to slope: the Pine Island–Thwaites ice-stream system." Geological Society, London, Memoirs 46, no. 1 (2016): 493-500. (doi:10.1144/M46.173)