Global warming and the Antarctic: the new Antarctic field season

Global warming and the Antarctic: the new Antarctic field season
©iStock/AntAntarctic

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are beginning the new Antarctic field season. One of the major focuses for the season is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), potentially one of the largest sources of future sea level rise.

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will carry out the new Antarctic field season from November 2018 to April 2019. During this time they will investigate the effect of global warming on the ice sheet, oceans, and wildlife.

Investigating the ice sheet

According to the British Antarctic Survey, three major projects on how global warming will affect the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are:

“• The biggest single field project in the history of BAS, known as BEAMISH. Using hot-water drilling technology, pioneered by BAS engineers, scientists will drill more than 2 km through the fast-flowing Rutford ice stream, to the bed of the ice sheet. This is deeper than ever before using the hot-water technique;
• Ice core drilling in West Antarctica (WACSWAIN). A European Research Council funded campaign to drill an ice core through to the bedrock on Skytrain Ice Rise to collect climate data spanning 120,000 years; and
• The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. This is the first field season for the ambitious UK-US collaboration, which aims to understand the processes on Thwaites Glacier and reduce uncertainty on how it is contributing to global sea-level rise.”

How will the new Antarctic field season contribute to research?

Professor David Vaughan, the director of science at BAS, said: “This is one of the most exciting times of year for British Antarctic Survey. Our scientists and engineers and logistics teams at research stations, on ships and on aircraft have spent years planning a very ambitious programme that will provide answers to the big questions about Antarctica’s changing environment. The deep fieldwork on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will be extremely challenging for science and support teams, but their efforts will make a huge difference to our understanding of the contribution that this sector of the continent makes to global sea-level rise.”

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