In just a little less than one week, the THOR (Thwaites Glacier Offshore Research) science team members (including EEPS science writer Linda Welzenbach) will embark on a two month cruise to the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. The mission: collect sediment cores from the seafloor beyond Thwaites Glacier that record its past behavior. They will also collect ocean-floor sediments deposited at the current grounding line (the location where the current ice shelf is attached to the seafloor) that contain records of changes taking place in the glacier and the adjacent ocean (e.g. the last 10,000 years). The scientists will also use ship-based sounding and geophysics instruments to “see” the current and past topography of the seafloor and how it might influence present day ocean circulation near Thwaites Glacier. The information from this cruise and another that follows in 2021 will allow scientists to better assess the glacier’s current and future stability.
EEPS emeritus faculty John Anderson and science writer Linda Welzenbach are part of an NSF-NERC research consortium called the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. THOR is one of 8 teams whose combined interdisciplinary efforts will produce a comprehensive look at the past and present characteristics of the glacier, seafloor and surrounding ocean to better understand the impact of climate on glacier behavior.
THOR Team on the cruise: Rob Larter (Science lead), Rebecca Minozi (Rice alum), Kelly Hogan, Alastair Graham, Rachel Clark, Linda Welzenbach