The Peninsula is the long arm of the Antarctic continent that stretches for about 1700 km from Ellsworth Land in West Antarctica, towards South America. Its northern extremity lies far north of the Antarctic Circle, beyond which are groups of islands including the South Shetland Islands and the South Orkney Islands, whilst to the east lies James Ross Island. The peninsula is mountainous, and although narrow, carries a substantial ice sheet that joins with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in the south. The northern part is known as Graham Land, and the southern part Palmer Land. To the west of Palmer Land is Alexander Island, the world’s largest uninhabited island; these two areas are linked by the George VI Ice Shelf (continued below the thumbnails).
Antarctic Peninsula (Southwest)
Other extensive ice shelves fringe the Antarctic Peninsula, but many have disappeared in recent decades, including the Wordie, Prince Gustav, Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves. Glaciologists believe that those remaining are also vulnerable to collapse. These changes reflect the rapid temperature rises in the Peninsula region, which are amongst the highest in the world and are a clear indication of anthropogenic global warming. Although ice-shelf collapse does not directly result in rise in sea level, the resulting "undamming" of the interior glaciers releases more ice into the sea; enhanced velocities derived from satellite data have demonstrated this process.
Our field operations have focused on James Ross Island in the northeast, and Alexander Island in the southwest. Our most recent research is entitled "Glacial history of the NE Antarctic Peninsula Region over centennial to millennial timescales". The UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded the project. Logistical support was provided by the Royal Navy’s HMS Endurance and HMS Protector (in the northeast) and the British Antarctic Survey (northeast and southwest). Further information is available on Antarctic Glaciers, which highlights some of our results and work activity.