LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A team of University of Kansas researchers and students will be leaving soon to study conditions in Antarctica, in an effort to better understand the earth's change in sea levels.

The first of two teams leaves Dec. 1 for the McMurdo Station in Antarctica and then on to West Antarctica, where researchers will spend weeks in the frozen summer season.

``There's very much an adventure element to this,'' said David Braaten, Kansas associate professor of geography. ``It's exciting. You never know what to expect, but it's also hard work.''

The teams are from the National Science Foundation's Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, which was established at Kansas in June with a $19 million grant.

The center is working to find ways to better understand the world's polar ice sheets and their contributions to global sea-level change.

Some researchers traveled to Greenland this summer to work on a radar system to measure ice sheets.

While they are in the remote West Antarctic region, researchers will work in almost continuous daylight. They will use radars and sensors developed by the center's staff to get a detailed image of the ice sheet's bed and to map the ice sheet's layers.

The ice sheets have the greatest potential for affecting sea levels, said Prasad Gogineni, who directs the ice cap center.

``We don't really know what their contribution is right now,'' he said.

Gogineni also said the researchers were trying to see what impact global warming has on polar ice sheets.

The crew plans to try and get younger schoolchildren interested in the project. They will take along two stuffed bears, Berkely and Ozgold, which will later be used to explain the project to children. The bears also went on this summer's trip to Greenland.


Information from: Lawrence Journal-World,