Sørsdal Glacier dynamics

Dr Sue Cook (right) and two helpers install the GPS and solar panels on the Sørsdal Glacier in 2015–16.
Dr Sue Cook (right) and her team install the GPS and solar panels on the Sørsdal Glacier in 2015–16. (Photo: Bryan Patterson/Helires)

21st November 2016

Ice shelves around Antarctica are thinning in response to climate change, with some, such as the Ross and Larsen, calving huge icebergs, while others, such as the Amery, developing large rifts.

To understand the fundamental processes driving ice shelf thinning, Antarctic scientists will tackle the issue from above and below during the 2016–17 Antarctic season, deploying instruments on the surface of, and in the ocean beneath, the Amery and McMurdo ice shelves and on the Totten and Sørsdal glaciers.

The Sørsdal Glacier project (Outlet glacier dynamics in Princess Elizabeth Land) is led by Dr Christian Schoof of the University of British Columbia, Canada, in collaboration with Dr Sue Cook of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi of the Australian Antarctic Division, and other researchers from University of Tasmania, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and Swansea University, United Kingdom.

This season the team will install GPS on the surface of the Sørsdal Glacier, to measure ice flow speeds and surface elevation changes, and two autonomous phase sensitive radio echo sounders (ApRES), which measure the thickness of the ice with millimetre accuracy. Thermistors, pressure transducers and time-lapse camera systems will be installed to monitor lake formation on the glacier’s surface, and the team will also conduct seismic work using a hammer and plate system.

Starting today you can read more about the team’s work and follow their progress in their weekly blog from the field.