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Public lecture on ice sheets and sea levels rescheduled

Research into polar ice sheets that could help predict future sea levels is the subject of a public lecture at the University of Leicester on 15 January. Professor Tavi Murray from Swansea University will discuss BEAMISH, a British Antarctic Survey project to drill 2km down into the Rutford Ice Sheet, in Antarctica.

The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets play a major role in controlling Earth’s sea level and climate, but our understanding of their history and motion is poor. At the moment, the biggest uncertainty in our ability to predict future sea level comes from these ice sheets. This is particularly important because sea level rise from ice sheets is increasing faster than expected, and because ice sheets have the potential to trigger irreversible sea level rise that would continue for many centuries.

BEAMISH tackles two aspects of uncertainty; first, the past behaviour of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and second, the flow of the fast ‘ice streams’ that drain it. Through measurements at the ice surface, and by drilling to the bed of Rutford Ice Stream, the BEAMISH project will find how long ago the ice sheet last disappeared completely, and how water and soft sediments underneath it helped the ice move fast on its journey to eventually melting in the sea.

Professor Tavi Murray is Chair in Glaciology, head of Swansea's Glaciology Group, and a deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University. A world authority in glaciology, she is at the forefront of research that informs the debate on one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change. Professor Murray is particularly interested in glacier flow and instability and, together with colleagues in the Glaciology Group, she studies the extent to which glaciers are contributing to rises in global sea level, both now and looking into the future.

The lecture, which is free and open to all, takes place in the Bennett Building on the University of Leicester campus between 5.30pm and 6.30pm on Wednesday 15 January 2020.

(NB. This is the lecture which was originally scheduled for November and was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.)

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