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WACSWAIN

About the WACSWAIN Project

The WArm Climate Stability of West Antarctic ice sheet in the last INterglacial (WACSWAIN) project, led by Cambridge Earth Sciences' Professor Eric Wolff, aims to understand what happened to the West Antarctic ice sheet during the last interglacial period, between 115,000 and 130,000 years ago.

Photograph of large orange tents in front of snowy mountains: the ice core drilling camp at Fletcher Promontory
Fieldwork in the Antarctic: Ice core drilling camp at Fletcher Promontory, close to where the first WACSWAIN core was collected.

Recent modelling studies predict that anthropogenic warming could lead to the loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in the next few centuries, and cause a large rise in sea level. This new project aims to discover whether the WAIS was destroyed by similar warming in the last interglacial, as both modelling and indirect evidence suggest.

The five-year European Research Council (ERC) funded WACSWAIN project, led by Prof. Eric Wolff, will involve colleagues in the Department of Earth Sciences and at the British Antarctic Survey. During field seasons in the West Antarctic, the team is drilling drill two new ice cores—a 650-metre-long core was successfully retrieved from Skytrain Ice Rise in the 2018–19 field season, and drilling will take place at Sherman Island in early 2020. These cores will be analysed in Cambridge to understand past retreats of the ice sheet, allowing models for ice sheet cover on the continent over the past 130,000 years to be tested.


Stay up-to-date with the Project

Eric and the team will be blogging about the project, including their fieldwork in Antarctica and as analysis progresses, on the Cambridge Earth Sciences blog.


Meet the WACSWAIN Team

At the University of Cambridge:

At the British Antarctic Survey:

and other staff in the field and working on logistics.

Partners and Project Funding

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 742224).

Partners

British Antarctic Survey logo British Antarctic Survey

Funding

The Royal Society logo The Royal Society
European Research Council logo European Research Council