Press Release
6 May 2008

NSIDC Scientist Awarded Innovative Research Project

The CIRES Innovative Research Program has funded NSIDC scientist Ted Scambos to explore the causes of ice shelf break-up in Antarctica. Scambos will investigate whether dwindling sea ice contributes to ice shelf collapse. The CIRES program provides modest funding to help researchers pursue novel or unconventional research projects that might otherwise be difficult to support.

In March 2008, a portion of the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the West Antarctic Peninsula began to collapse, underscoring the warming that the region has been experiencing. The Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse was unique because scientists recorded extensive data during the event, including satellite images, meteorological measurements, and in situ observations.

Scambos, together with Robert Massom of the Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, will use data collected during the Wilkins collapse to explore the factors that contributed to the breakup. Understanding these factors is important because when ice shelves collapse, the glaciers behind them may accelerate, contributing to sea level rise.

To view the NSIDC press release on the Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse, see Antarctic Ice Shelf Disintegration Underscores a Warming World.

For further inquiries, please contact the NSIDC press office at or +1.303.492.1497.