A study of a giant ice sheet covering the western part of Antarctica is being undertaken in an effort to learn why the ice is deteriorating. Recent investigations suggest that the ice is crumbling and is perhaps influencing the world's sea levels and weather patterns.
A five-person team, staffed by the University of Maine and headed by G.H. Denton and H.W. Borns, Jr ., will try to determine how big the ice sheet was at its greatest extent, when it was that big, and what is its rate of deterioration.
Covering some 700,000 square miles, the West Antarctic ice sheet has an average thickness of approximately 5000 feet and stretches from the Ross Sea to the Weddell Sea. The surface is thought to be dropping, possibly because the bottom is being undercut by the sea.