International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration

International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration

Start date
1 April, 2018
End date
1 December, 2026

This joint UK-US research programme aims to improve the understanding of the processes affecting ice sheet stability to predict, with more certainty, the future impact of sea-level rise from Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica.

Scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and other institutes will investigate whether Thwaites glacier may collapse in the next few decades or centuries, and how this could affect future global sea-level rise. New knowledge about the glacier’s behaviour currently and in the past is critical for making better predictions of how the ocean and ice will respond to environmental change.

Thwaites Glacier meeting group picture
Thwaites Glacier meeting group picture

Thwaites Glacier drains an area roughly the size of Britain or the US state of Florida, accounting for around four per cent of global sea-level rise —an amount that has doubled since the mid-1990s.

Thwaites Glacier. Photo credit: US National Science Foundation U.S. Antarctic Program.

The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration is an ambitious scientific programme funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). It is the largest joint project undertaken by the two nations in Antarctica for more than 70 years – since the conclusion of a mapping project on the Antarctic Peninsula in the late 1940s. The five-year, £20 million programme is organised into eight large-scale projects, bringing together leading polar scientists aim to deliver answers to some of the big questions for scientists trying to predict global sea-level rise.

The collaboration involves around 100 scientists from world-leading research institutes in both the US and UK alongside researchers from South Korea, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand and Finland, who will contribute to the various projects.

BAS researchers are Co-Principal Investigators jointly leading four of the research projects:

Analysis of observations and measurements will create a greater understanding of the glacier and provide a major contribution to the ongoing urgent international scientific effort to help predict future global sea-level rise. The results of these investigations will bring many benefits to science, to policy and to economic decision-making — which will ultimately contribute to the well-being of our society.


The overall aim is to gain a greater understanding of how much the Thwaites glacier may contribute to global sea-level rise in the future.

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