Project Overview

Swansea Glaciology Group has attracted four NERC grants for research into the stability of the Larsen C Ice Shelf (LCIS), Antarctic Peninsula, since 2008, and is currently expanding this research to pan-Antarctic ice shelves. Ice shelves matter because they are first-order controls on the sea level contribution and climate feedbacks from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, providing major physical restraint to the ice streams and glaciers that feed them from the continental interior. When an ice shelf collapses or retreats significantly then that buttressing restraint will decrease and feeder glacier flow speed and thus ice discharge into the ocean and sea level rise increase, and potentially so in the long term. Most notably, following four seasons of fieldwork on the LCIS combined with satellite remote sensing and ice shelf modelling, projects SOLIS (2008-11) and MIDAS (2014-17) asserted that LCIS’s internal structure is highly heterogeneous, and that this complex structure plays a fundamental role in controlling its response to atmospheric and ocean warming in a changing climate. Commencing with project AntShelf2000 (AXA-funded, 2017-18), the Glaciology Group is now striving to identify the pan-Antarctic significance of the many lessons learned at the LCIS since 2008.

Larsen ice shelf
Larsen ice shelf rift