It is the first of a five-year £20 million collaboration between a team of 100 UK and US polar scientists and support staff to understand the contribution the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica will make to global sea level.
According to the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the amount of ice draining into the sea from the Ice Sheet glacier accounts for around 4% of global sea level rise and scientists are concerned a collapse could significant raise global sea levels.
During the coming Antarctic field season, a suite of scientific investigations will take place at sea, in the air and on the ice.
More than 20 researchers will set sail in late January and map the sea floor around the ice in front of the glacier to see how the shape of the bed affected its behaviour in the past.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “We are literally going to the ends of the earth to understand the effects of climate change on sea levels as we continue our long term commitment to Arctic Research dating back to 1944. alongside our American partners, we have invested £20 million into this crucial international research project to understand what further action is needed to continue our mission of tackling global climate change.”