A group of people walking from an airplane in Antarctica.


When Nick Holschuh, assistant professor of geology, left home for Antarctica on Nov. 11 of last year, he thought he would be returning in January. Weather, transportation availability and airplane mechanical difficulties conspired against him: What was supposed to be a 66-day trip ended up lasting 84 days—and Holshcuh spent most of that time in field camps on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, exposed to the wind, frigid temperatures and continuous sunlight. He also plowed through seven books.

“I was definitely ready to come home by the time I left, but I’m glad that I went,” he said, adding that the delay in leaving wasn’t a surprise to him, given that it was his fourth trip to the continent. He was fully aware of the challenges inherent in traveling to and from there. 

On leave from Amherst until the end of June 2024, Holschuh was in Antarctica to conduct research with colleagues in the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), a group of scientists studying the eponymous rapidly melting 74,000-square-mile region of ice. ITGC researchers are modeling the glacier and collecting data about the ocean, atmosphere and sediment underneath. Their aim is to better predict how much and how fast sea level might rise over the next century as a result of climate change. 

Holschuh’s research during this trip involved using ice-penetrating radar to measure the geometry and electrical properties of Thwaites. And even though the trip ended up being longer than planned, “we still got data in one of Earth’s most important yet inaccessible places,” he said. “By being there, and through the information we collected, we are learning a lot about the glacier, which makes some extra time waiting feel like a small price to pay.”

Also worth the price? His first meal when he finally returned to non-Antarctic land. “I had been craving fresh veggies for weeks,” he said with a laugh, “so I bought myself a really big salad.”

In this video, Holschuh introduces us to his southern home-away-from-home and explains the research he and his ITGC colleagues are conducting there. Think of it as breaking the ice…

Professor Nicholas Holschuh in Antarctica

Nick Holschuh, assistant professor of geology, reports from Antarctica where he conducted research with colleagues in the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC).