The United States and United Kingdom scientists are getting ready to participate in the most prominent research study regarding an Antarctic glacier.
The Thwaites Glacier
On April 30, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a collaboration with the United Kingdom's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The purpose of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC) is to study one of Antarctica's massive glaciers. Researchers from both countries are concerned to see what would happen if the Thwaites Glacier would completely collapse. It is expected that the teams would be heading to Antarctica this October to begin the research process.
Located in the western part of the continent, the Thwaites Glacier accounts for 4 percent of the global sea level, which has doubled since the 1990s. NSF notes that every time the glacier melts, the melting is equivalent to the size of Great Britain or the state of Florida.
The Research Activities
To undertake this massive project, the NSF and NERC have selected eight research teams that will participate in finding solutions. Peter West, a representative from the NSF, noted exclusively to Tech Times that both organizations sent out inquiries for proposals. NSF judged the research proposals by both how high is the "intellectual merit" and how their research would affect the science world and society-at-large. Each team would be led by representatives from both U.S. and British academia and will investigate a different aspect of the glacier.
Some groups will be investigating the glacier through computer modeling and simulations to improve the ability to predict how the glacier's melting could affect the sea level rise. Others are expected to look at outside factors such as how the ocean and atmosphere could lead to the melting. Also, research teams will also sample the glacier's bedrock through seismic activities. However, the most significant challenge that awaits the groups is that the Thwaites Glacier is in an inconvenient location.
"Thwaites is exactly in the worst position in West Antarctica. It's just about as far as anywhere as you can get. It makes it really, really important to have this kind of integrated push of logistics," said Sridhar Anandakrishnan, a geoscientist who will lead an ITGC group to the Washington Post.
Time Length And History
While the research process would begin his fall, Science Magazine stated that the ITGC research would take place throughout the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 summers. ITGC marks the first time that both the United States and the United Kingdom would conduct a research project surrounding Antarctica since the 1940s.
Antarctica In The News
As scientists prepare their research groups to deal with Antarctica, other research teams have been hard at work investigating the continent. A team that represented the British Antarctic Survey looked at 79 ice cores in Antarctica, and through their findings, they revealed that the continent experienced more snowfall over the past 200 years. The team estimated that the snow could have been transformed into 272 gigatons of water.
A German research team traveled to Antarctica to experiment in growing vegetables without sunlight and soil. They were able to successfully produce 8 pounds of vegetables through the EDEN-ISS project. The project focused on finding a way to feed astronauts on the International Space Station. University of Leeds Scientists published an article in Nature Geoscience that mentioned Antarctica ice was being detached from the seafloor, due to warmer ocean water.