Researchers, engineers, and logistics providers representing 10 countries held a virtual workshop in October 2020. The aim was to evaluate and plan for interdisciplinary scientific opportunities and engineering challenges for an International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) project along the Siple Coast near the grounding zone of the WAIS. At this meeting, the members outlined specific research objectives and logistical challenges associated with the recovery of Neogene and Quaternary geological records from the West Antarctic interior adjacent to the Kamb Ice Stream and at Crary Ice Rise.
New geophysical surveys at these locations identified drilling targets in which new drilling technologies will allow for the recovery of up to 200 m of sediments beneath the ice sheet. Sub-ice-shelf records have so far proven difficult to obtain but are critical to better constrain marine ice sheet sensitivity to past and future increases in global mean surface temperature up to 2°C (3.5°F) above pre-industrial levels.
The resulting international partnership is comprised of geologists, glaciologists, oceanographers, geophysicists, microbiologists, climate and ice sheet modelers, engineers, and outreach specialists. The scientific and technological advances developed through this program will enable us to test whether the West Antarctic Ice Shelf collapsed during past intervals of warmth and to determine its sensitivity to a +2 °C global warming threshold.
Patterson, M. O., et al. (2022). Sensitivity of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to +2 °C (SWAIS 2C). In Scientific Drilling (Vol. 30, pp. 101–112). Copernicus GmbH. https://doi.org/10.5194/sd-30-101-2022