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The 5.4 million-square-mile Antarctic Ice Sheet is the greatest mass of fresh water on Earth. If it all were to melt, it would raise global sea levels some 220 feet. Searching for answers to how fast the ice might react to changes in climate, scientists are now studying how that ice reacted to past warm periods similar to today's.
More than two dozen researchers aboard the drillship JOIDES Resolution left Punta Arenas, Chile, on March 20. They will obtain cores of sediment from a remote section of seafloor, where ancient icebergs are believed to have left clues.
Information - Cores - Researchers - Ice - Sheet
With information from these cores, the researchers hope to chart how the ice sheet waxed and waned in response to climate over the past 10 million years.
The two-month cruise is Expedition 382: Iceberg Alley and Subantarctic Ice and Ocean Dynamics of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), a collaboration of scientists that coordinates large-scale ocean expeditions to study the Earth's history as it is recorded in sediments beneath the ocean floor.
IODP - Expedition - Scientists - Cores - Floor
On IODP Expedition 382, scientists plan to drill cores from the floor of the Scotia Sea off the Antarctic Peninsula.
As snow falls on Antarctica, it slowly builds up and turns into ice in the continent's interior. The ice then becomes glaciers, which move outward toward the coast. The ice carries sediment with it. When the ice reaches the ocean, icebergs break off, ferrying their load of debris to the sea.
Antarctica - Counterclockwise - Float - Continent - Antarctic
Antarctica is ringed by a powerful counterclockwise current. Many icebergs float in this current around the continent until they get close to the Antarctic Peninsula, a long arm that extends toward Chile.
In the Scotia Sea...
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