RAPID: High-Resolution Gravity for Thwaites Glacier

Lead PI: Kirsty J Tinto , Dr. Robin E. Bell

Unit Affiliation: Marine and Polar Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

August 2018 - July 2019
Antarctica ; West Antarctica ; Thwaites Glacier
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Considerable uncertainty remains in projections of future ice loss from West Antarctica. A recent decadal style U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report entitled: A Strategic Vision for NSF Investments in Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research (2015) identifies changing ice in Antarctica as one of the highest priority science problems facing communities around the globe. The report identifies Thwaites Glacier as a target for collaborative intense research efforts in the coming years. This project contributes to that effort by deploying an instrument on board airborne surveys that will help to constrain the unknown terrains beneath the Thwaites Ice Shelf and in the region of the grounding line where the inland ice goes afloat. By improving the accuracy and resolution of these data, which are fed into predictive numerical models, the team will help to constrain the magnitude and rate of increase in the contribution of ice from Thwaites Glacier to the global ocean.

The team will enhance the capabilities of the already planned British Antarctic Survey aerogeophysics survey of Thwaites Glacier during the 2018/19 field season. Their Inertial Measurement Unit will be paired with a state-of-the-art commercial gravity meter to acquire high-quality and significantly enhanced resolution data both over the ice shelf and at the grounding line. Data will be processed immediately following collection and raw and observed data will be released six months after collection.