Into the Thaw: Decoding Thwaites Glacier

Antarctica Dispatch 1: Gearing up and shipping out

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Nathaniel B Palmer in port

The icebreaker Nataniel B. Palmer is pictured in port in Punta Arenas, Chile, in late January, before setting sail for Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier.

Credit:

Carolyn Beeler / The World

The icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer is setting out this southern summer on a seven-week scientific expedition to Antarctica’s massive Thwaites Glacier. The voyage marks the beginning of a five-year international effort to try to find out how quickly the glacier may melt in a warming world, and what that could mean for global sea levels.

The World’s Carolyn Beeler is onboard and will be reporting on the expedition. Her first dispatch comes from the port of Punta Arenas, Chile, on the Strait of Magellan.

icebreaker

The icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer, chartered by the US National Science Foundation, is shown. The ship is the length of a football field and dwarfs a nearby cruise ship.     

Credit:

Carolyn Beeler/The World 

Before boarding the Palmer, passengers and crew visit the gear warehouse to get outfitted for the extreme weather that awaits them in Antarctica.

Before boarding the Palmer, passengers and crew visit the gear warehouse to get outfitted for the extreme weather that awaits them in Antarctica.

Credit:

Carolyn Beeler/The World 

windbreaker

The gear comes only in men’s sizes, so there’s some trial and error for women to get a good fit. All told, Carolyn Beeler was issued three jackets, five pairs of warm or waterproof pants, steel-toed rubber boots, ski goggles, a neck warmer, multiple pairs of gloves and a hat.

Credit:

Carolyn Beeler/The World 

USTED ESTA AQUI-YOU ARE HERE. A map in the port orients visitors. Relevant distance for people headed to the Palmer: Antarctica, 3,838 km, or roughly 2,400 miles.

Usted esta aqui means "you are here." That's what the marker at the bottom of this booth says. The map in the port orients visitors, showing the relevant distance for people headed to the Palmer: Antarctica, 3,838 km, or roughly 2,400 miles.

Credit:

Carolyn Beeler/The World 

RelatedWhat Thwaites Glacier can tell us about the future of West Antarctica

Not a mannequin. The World's Carolyn Beeler in her more-or-less well-fitting parka on the deck of the Nathaniel B. Palmer in Punta Arenas.

Not a mannequin. The World's Carolyn Beeler is pictured in her more-or-less well-fitting parka on the deck of the Nathaniel B. Palmer in Punta Arenas, Chile. 

Credit:

Carolyn Beeler/The World 

The Nathaniel B. Palmer, underway from Punta Arenas, Chile.

The Nathaniel B. Palmer is underway from Punta Arenas, Chile.

Credit:

Carolyn Beeler/The World 

Next upDispatch 2: Crossing the Drake Passage

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