25 September 2012Prof. Tony Payne and Dr. Steph Cornford of the School of Geographical Sciences are part of a recently-funded consortium aimed at investigating the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) with a particular focus on the Amundsen Sea sector and Pine Island Glacier. The NERC iSTAR research programme will run for four years and is divided into four inter-connected projects. On the ocean side, one project focuses on the processes bringing warm water onto continental shelves and towards the ice shelves, with another focusing on the processes occurring beneath the ice shelves. While on the ice sheet side, a project focuses on the response of ice shelves and ice streams and the impact of movement of the grounding line, and a final project looks at the overall impact of changes in the Amundsen Sea ice mass balance on global sea levels. The overall project is funded at around £7m and is coordinated by the British Antarctic Survey. It involves numerical modelling and satellite observation, as well as extensive ship-borne and field-based research.
The Bristol funding is £132k and we will be involved with the ice shelf/stream project using sophisticated models of ice flow to assess the impact of oceanic melt and grounding-line migration on the mass budget of the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers. Dr. Cornford will also be involved in field work on Pine Island Glacier during the winter of 2013/4.
For further information about ice sheet stability research, see the NERC website.