IEDA
Project Information
NSF-NERC: Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME): The Role of Shear Margin Dynamics in the Future Evolution of the Thwaites Drainage Basin
Short Title:
Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME)
Start Date:
2018-03-20
End Date:
2023-03-31
Program:
Thwaites (ITGC)
Project Website(s)
Description/Abstract
This project contributes to the joint initiative launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to substantially improve decadal and longer-term projections of ice loss and sea-level rise originating from Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could raise the global sea level by about 5 meters (16 feet) and the scientific community considers it the most significant risk for coastal environments and cities. The risk arises from the deep, marine setting of WAIS. Although scientists have been aware of the precarious setting of this ice sheet since the early 1970s, it is only now that the flow of ice in several large drainage basins is undergoing dynamic change consistent with a potentially irreversible disintegration. Understanding WAIS stability and enabling more accurate prediction of sea-level rise through computer simulation are two of the key objectives facing the polar science community today. This project will directly address both objectives by: (1) using state-of-the-art technologies to observe rapidly deforming parts of Thwaites Glacier that may have significant control over the future evolution of WAIS, and (2) using these new observations to improve ice-sheet models used to predict future sea-level rise. This project brings together a multidisciplinary team of UK and US scientists. This international collaboration will result in new understanding of natural processes that may lead to the collapse of the WAIS and will boost infrastructure for research and education by creating a multidisciplinary network of scientists. This team will mentor three postdoctoral researchers, train four Ph.D. students and integrate undergraduate students in this research project. The project will test the overarching hypothesis that shear-margin dynamics may exert powerful control on the future evolution of ice flow in Thwaites Drainage Basin. To test the hypothesis, the team will set up an ice observatory at two sites on the eastern shear margin of Thwaites Glacier. The team argues that weak topographic control makes this shear margin susceptible to outward migration and, possibly, sudden jumps in response to the drawdown of inland ice when the grounding line of Thwaites retreats. The ice observatory is designed to produce new and comprehensive constraints on englacial properties, including ice deformation rates, ice crystal fabric, ice viscosity, ice temperature, ice water content and basal melt rates. The ice observatory will also establish basal conditions, including thickness and porosity of the till layer and the deeper marine sediments, if any. Furthermore, the team will develop new knowledge with an emphasis on physical processes, including direct assessment of the spatial and temporal scales on which these processes operate. Seismic surveys will be carried out in 2D and 3D using wireless geophones. A network of broadband seismometers will identify icequakes produced by crevassing and basal sliding. Autonomous radar systems with phased arrays will produce sequential images of rapidly deforming internal layers in 3D while potentially also revealing the geometry of a basal water system. Datasets will be incorporated into numerical models developed on different spatial scales. One will focus specifically on shear-margin dynamics, the other on how shear-margin dynamics can influence ice flow in the whole drainage basin. Upon completion, the project aims to have confirmed whether the eastern shear margin of Thwaites Glacier can migrate rapidly, as hypothesized, and if so what the impacts will be in terms of sea-level rise in this century and beyond.
Personnel
Person Role
Tulaczyk, Slawek Investigator and contact
Funding
Antarctic Glaciology Award # 1739027
Antarctic Instrumentation and Support Award # 1739027
Antarctic Integrated System Science Award # 1739027
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Deployment
Deployment Type
Eastern Shear Margin of Thwaites Glacier field camp
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
0 (raw data)
Publications
  1. Young, T. J., Schroeder, D. M., Jordan, T. M., Christoffersen, P., Tulaczyk, S. M., Culberg, R., & Bienert, N. L. (2021). Inferring Ice Fabric From Birefringence Loss in Airborne Radargrams: Application to the Eastern Shear Margin of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 126(5). (doi:10.1029/2020jf006023)
  2. Bick, I. A., Santiago Tate, A. F., Serafin, K. A., Miltenberger, A., Anyansi, I., Evans, M., … Suckale, J. (2021). Rising Seas, Rising Inequity? Communities at Risk in the San Francisco Bay Area and Implications for Adaptation Policy. Earth’s Future, 9(7). (doi:10.1029/2020ef001963)
  3. Kasmalkar, I. G., Serafin, K. A., Miao, Y., Bick, I. A., Ortolano, L., Ouyang, D., & Suckale, J. (2020). When floods hit the road: Resilience to flood-related traffic disruption in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Science Advances, 6(32), eaba2423. (doi:10.1126/sciadv.aba2423)
  4. Young, T. J., Martín, C., Christoffersen, P., Schroeder, D. M., Tulaczyk, S. M., & Dawson, E. J. (2020). Rapid and accurate polarimetric radar measurements of ice crystal fabric orientation at the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide deep ice core site. (doi:10.5194/tc-2020-264)
  5. Young, T. J., Martín, C., Christoffersen, P., Schroeder, D. M., Tulaczyk, S. M., & Dawson, E. J. (2021). Rapid and accurate polarimetric radar measurements of ice crystal fabric orientation at the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide ice core site. The Cryosphere, 15(8), 4117–4133. (doi:10.5194/tc-15-4117-2021)
  6. Neuhaus, S. U., Tulaczyk, S. M., Stansell, N. D., Coenen, J. J., Scherer, R. P., Mikucki, J. A., & Powell, R. D. (2021). Did Holocene climate changes drive West Antarctic grounding line retreat and readvance? The Cryosphere, 15(10), 4655–4673. (doi:10.5194/tc-15-4655-2021)
  7. Neuhaus, S. U., Tulaczyk, S. M., Stansell, N. D., Coenen, J. J., Scherer, R. P., Mikucki, J. A., & Powell, R. D. (2020). Did Holocene climate changes drive West Antarctic grounding line retreat and re-advance? (doi:10.5194/tc-2020-308)
Platforms and Instruments

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