Northumbria University

Measuring Antarctic ice changes

Northumbria University academics are analysing an Antarctic glacier, almost the size of Britain, to predict how it will behave over the next century.

While the rate at which the Thwaites Glacier is moving and melting has increased in recent years, there is currently no major cause for concern.

However, should it start moving more quickly, or a portion were to collapse, oceans around the world could rise by three to five metres. This would fundamentally change the world’s geography and displace millions of people.

In a major US-UK jointly funded project, researchers from Northumbria (led by Professor Hilmar Gudmundsson), along with academics in California, Massachusetts and Edinburgh, will spend the next five years analysing historical satellite data to detail the glacier’s past movements.

They will also use brand new information currently being collected by academics and the British Antarctic Survey to predict the glacier’s future movements, as well as if and when a major ice collapse could occur.

By sharing these findings around the world, governments will be able to plan major infrastructure projects such as flood defences.

Further reading