The Nathaniel B. Palmer arrived at Thwaites Glacier around 2 a.m. ET on Feb. 26, nearly a month after departing Chile. On the first day at Thwaites, the Palmer traced a roughly 100-mile path around the edge of the glacier and above it into the Amundsen Sea.
During the trek, researchers mapped portions of the sea floor in front of the glacier that were previously uncharted.
These maps will help scientists understand what happened as Thwaites receded in the past, and how it might behave going forward, allowing models to better predict how much the Florida-sized piece of ice might contribute to sea level rise in coming decades.
“It looks kind of mystical,” said Peter Sheehan, an oceanographer with the University of East Anglia in the UK. “It’s like standing in a cathedral, you feel the hush of reverence.”