A Continent of Ice

A tale of three ice sheets...

 

Antarctica is not  a continent covered in one giant ice sheet, it is actually made up of three ice sheets: the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet (APIS), the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and the enormous East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS).

 

Looking across Antarctica from west to east (relative to UTC) reveals the two largest  ice sheets. The EAIS and the WAIS are very different, not only in size, but their geographical context. Crucially, large portions of the WAIS lie a long way under sea level, making this ice sheet highly sensitive to what happens in the world's oceans. This potential instability in the WAIS places a high degree of uncertainty over what our planet's  sea level might do in the future, a factor with serious social and economic implications. This  uncertainty has lead to the WAIS being a major focus of scientific research over the past two decades. Unfortunately,  the remote nature of the Weddell Sea has made extensive field investigations into the West Antarctic difficult. Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions have supported science in this important sector of the WAIS over the last decade.