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UTEP research team to travel to Antarctica this month

A research team from the Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso will travel to Antartica this month to collect data from a glacier said to be collapsing at a fast rate.

The data collected could help researchers find out how a changing climate is impacting the Thwaites glacier.

Marianne Karplus, Ph.D., Steven Harder, Ph.D., and Galen Kaip will participate in the Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME) project.

They will focus on studying just how quickly the massive Antarctic glacier could collapse and the effect it could have on changing sea levels.

The Thwaites glacier is about the size of Florida.

The team is scheduled to leave December 17 and the trip will take them to New Zealand first then to Antarctica where they will spend a month researching.

“It’s the largest U.S.- U.K. collaboration to do science in Antarctica for a long time, I think 70 years,” Karlpus said. She also serves as an assistant professor at UTEP.

The UTEP researchers said they will focus on only one side of the glacier to better understand how much ice is flowing toward the ocean.

They will be joined by five other universities also sending teams to Antarctica, but the researchers are part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), a $25 million initiative supporting the efforts of about to help predict the future evolution of Thwaites Glacier.

“I think it could have a significant effect on our understanding of how glaciers move and what controls them,” Kaip said.

The team is now mentally and physically preparing for the conditions while ensuring they have the needed tools and instruments to conduct their research.

This is the first of several trips to the Thwaites glacier planned for the team.

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