Update

Now Archived! PolarConnect event with Sarah Slack and Dr. Frank Nitsche from aboard the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer in West Antarctica on Monday, 9 March 2020. You can access this and other events on the PolarConnect Archives site.

What Are They Doing?

A sloped blue iceberg. Aboard the icebreaker Oden between the Amundsen and Ross seas. Photo by Lollie Garay.
A sloped blue iceberg. Aboard the icebreaker Oden between the Amundsen and Ross seas. Photo by Lollie Garay.
Satellite observations show that Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, has been thinning rapidly and its flow speed has been increasing. At the same time, its grounding line, the point at which the glacier starts to float over the sea, has retreated. Oceanographic studies show that the main driver of these changes is incursion of warm water in the deep ocean beneath the floating ice
shelf that extends seaward from the glacier. An important factor affecting the flow of warm water towards the glacier and the stability of the ice shelf is the topography of the seafloor in the area, which is poorly known. The seafloor offshore from Thwaites Glacier and the records of glacial and ocean change contained in the sediments on it are the focus of the THOR project.

Where Are They?

The Nathaniel B. Palmer research vessel docked in Punta Arenas, Chile. Photo by Jillian Worssam.
The Nathaniel B. Palmer research vessel docked in Punta Arenas, Chile. Photo by Jillian Worssam.
The team will be aboard the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker in the Amundsen Sea, West Antarctica near Thwaites Glacier. Normally, participants onboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer share a two-person cabins with bathrooms on board the boat. Regular meals will be provided by the ship's crew. Work will be in labs on board and, possibly, on deck.

Latest Journals

Yesterday was our scheduled return to Punta Arenas, Chile, but because of some heavy ice and a brief detour from our planned route, we are a few days behind. We're now scheduled to get to port in Chile at 10:00 AM local time on Sunday, March 29. Our journey home beyond that is still not clear, but…
The Adventure Continues Yesterday, we dropped off the ten members of our team who came from the UK at the British research station Rothera on the Antarctica peninsula. It should be easier for them to get home quickly and easily from that location. After close to 60 days at sea together and all that…
Hey everybody - guess what happened to my Styrofoam cup??!! Styrofoam cup before Styrofoam cup after
For those of you out there unable to attend science class right now, there are plenty of ways to grow your science skills at home. Some of the things I wanted to do with my students when I returned from Antarctica could easily be done under the supervision of a parent - or perhaps be entirely self-…
Dates
-
Location
Ship-based, Amundsen Sea
Project Funded Title
Thwaites Offshore Research (THOR)
Sarah Slack - Educator
Educator
JHS 223 - The Montauk School

Sarah Slack has been teaching middle school science in Brooklyn, New York for 10 years. After completing her Masters in Plant Biology from the University of Minnesota, she worked in environmental education at a nature center and on a wooden sailboat before finally realizing she belonged in the classroom, sharing her love of the biological sciences, investigations, and explorations with kids who very often have spent little to no time outside of New York City. This school year, Sarah began teaching STEM instead of science, and has therefore been able to focus on providing opportunities for her students to engineer solutions to design challenges. She is a member of the city's Middle School Science Leadership Team, working to support other teachers as the city transitions to the Next Generation Science Standards. She has also earned a Master Teacher Fellowship with Math for America. Outside the classroom, Sarah loves coaching her school's Science Olympiad team, hiking and backpacking with her two amazing dogs, taking an annual trip to tiny Pictou Island in Canada each summer, and absolutely killing it at fantasy football.

Frank Nitsche - Researcher
Researcher
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Frank O. Nitsche received a MS in geophysics from the University of Kiel, Germany and a PhD from the University of Bremen, Germany. In 2001 he came to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University where he started as a postdoctoral researcher and is now a research scientist. There he studies sediment processes and morphological conditions of the Hudson River Estuary and the Long Island Sound. In addition, he investigates the morphology of the Antarctic continental margin and is reconstructing the path of past ice streams and related sediment transport processes. He has participated in six expeditions to Antarctica and its surrounding Southern Ocean where he used acoustic mapping techniques and oceanographic measurements to understand past and present processes that shape the Antarctic continental margins and affect the ice sheet. He is involved in the creation of the International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean. Read more about Dr. Nitsche here.

Thwaites Offshore Research Resources

This is an archive of a PolarConnect event with PolarTREC teacher Sarah Slack and researcher Dr. Frank Nitsche aboard the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer discussing the science and fieldwork around the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. This event took place in the Amundsen Sea on 9 March 2020.

Event
Antarctic
Download and Share

A guest blog post from PolarTREC teacher Sarah Slack discussing her observations from her expedition aboard the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer. This article was published by the National Wildlife Federation Blog.

Article
Antarctic