ICE Fimbul Ice Shelf - top to bottom

ICE Fimbul Ice Shelf – top to bottom is a research project investigating melting of ice shelves in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. In November 2009, the first field season started with an expedition to the Fimbul Ice Shelf. The field work continued in 2010–2011, with a second expedition to the ice shelf in the south.

Map of the Fimbul Ice Shelf

Map of the Fimbul Ice Shelf. Map: Anders Skoglund / Norwegian Polar Institute

An ice shelf is a glacier floating in the ocean – and about 10 percent of the area in Antarctica are ice shelves.

The aim of the expedition to the Fimbul Ice Shelf is to understand the interaction between the Antarctic ice sheet and the ocean. The project is a cooperation between oceanographers and glaciologists who in the next two seasons will observe the Fimbul ice self – top to bottom.

The expedition to the Fimbul Ice Shelf is considered to be quite challenging. The scientists will drill through the several hundred meters thick ice and place advanced instruments underneath. Nobody has succeeded to do such investigations in this area before. If the scientists succeed, it will be the first time climate researchers get insight in the ice melting underneath the shelf in this important part of Antarctica.

In order to understand how the Antarctica ice sheet is affected by a changing climate, the interaction between the ice sheet and the ocean is important. At the same time the ice also influences the ocean, so ice ocean interaction is also an important process for the oceans surrounding Antarctica. The meeting point for the ocean and the ice sheet is the ice shelves, and ice shelves therefore play a cruicial role in the interplay between the ocean and the Antarctic ice sheet. The ocean conditions near ice shelves vary around Antarctica. The project Fimbul Ice Shelf – top to bottom aims to understand the processes at and underneath the Fimbul Ice Shelf.

The leader of ICE Fimbul Ice Shelf is senior research scientist Elisabeth Isaksson.

The expedition route

The map shows the expedition route and the day-to-day location of the 2010–2011 expedtion.

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The project is a collaboration between ICE, The University of Oslo and The Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.