A team of UK and U.S. polar scientists are about to embark on one of the largest joint Antarctic missions for more than 70 years.

Today marks the start of the first field season of a five-year quest to understand the contribution that the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica will make to global sea level. Currently, the amount of ice draining into the sea from this West Antarctic Ice Sheet glacier accounts for around four per cent of global sea-level rise. Scientists are concerned that a collapse of the Thwaites Glacier could significantly raise global sea levels.

Support teams will now begin their work to get field camps and supply depots set up and ready for the arrival of science teams, which will include researchers from Northumbria University, Newcastle.

They will cover about 7,000 km in extremely cold and hostile conditions as the Thwaites Glacier is extremely remote and difficult to reach. Getting science and support teams to where they need to be is a massive joint operation involving tractor traverses, aircraft operations and ship-borne support. Read more.