Expeditions

U.S. ice scientists travel to Antarctica, Greenland, and high-elevation mountain ranges around the world to conduct field work in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Below you can find information about current and upcoming expeditions. You can also read summaries of recent field work or view a timeline of the expeditions.



Completed Expeditions

  (Pick season from below)

2010-2011 Antarctic
Lake Vida

Antarctica: Geochemistry and Microbiology of the Extreme Aquatic Environment in Lake Vida, East Antarctica

Point(s) of Contact: Peter Doran, University of Illinois at Chicago
Schedule: 10/22/2010 - 11/28/2010
Equipment: Hand Auger, Sidewinder and Prairie Dog
Project Web Page: http://www.dri.edu/lake-vida
Summary: Lake Vida is the largest lake of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, with an approximately 20 m ice cover overlaying a brine of unknown depth with at least 7 times seawater salinity and temperatures below -10 degrees C year-round. The research proposes to enter, for the first time the main brine body below the thick ice of Lake Vida and perform in situ measurements, collect samples of the brine column, and collect sediment cores from the lake bottom for detailed geochemical and microbiological analyses. The results will allow the characterization of present and past life in the lake, assessment of modern and past sedimentary processes, and determination of the lake's history. The research will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team that will uncover the biogeochemical processes associated with a non-photosynthetic microbial community isolated for a significant period of time. This research will address diversity, adaptive mechanisms and evolutionary processes in the context of the physical evolution of the environment of Lake Vida.


Joughin

Antarctica: Constraining the Mass-Balance Deficit of the Amundsen Coast's Glaciers

Point(s) of Contact: Ian Joughin, University of Washington
Schedule: 11/12/2010 - 1/28/2011
Equipment: Badger-Eclipse Drill
Project Web Page: http://bigice.apl.washington.edu/projects_amundsencoast.html
Summary: The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing mass, in large part because of rapid thinning of the Amundsen Coast glaciers. While warmer ocean temperatures may drive this thinning, the large uncertainties in the current mass balance estimates largely arise from poor knowledge of the snowfall accumulation over Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, Pope and Kohler glaciers. The objective of this International Polar Year project is to determine accumulation rates in this vastly under-sampled region to remove the large uncertainties in current mass balance estimates. The first year (2009/10) field effort will collect a series of airborne accumulation radar profiles to map internal layers and ice thickness. Near-surface radar layers will be dated using age-depth profiles derived from shallow ice cores that will be drilled during the second season (2010/11).


Allan Hills

Antarctica: Exploring a 2 Million + Year Ice Climate Archive-Allan Hills Blue Ice Area (2MBIA)

Point(s) of Contact: Andrei Kurbatov, University of Maine
Schedule: 11/15/2010 - 1/15/2011
Equipment: Badger-Eclipse Drill
Project Web Page: http://cci.um.maine.edu/2MBIA/
Summary: 2MBIA is a United States blue ice coring and trenching project in East Antarctica sponsored by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs. The purpose of the 2MBIA project is to demonstrate that relatively inexpensive trenching for collection of samples of ice as old as 2.5-2.8 million years (Ma) is possible at the site located one hour by airplane from U.S. McMurdo Station. The major objectives of the project are to generate an absolute timescale for the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area (BIA), and then to reconstruct details of past climate changes and greenhouse gas concentrations for certain time periods back to 2.5 Ma.


Taylor Glacier Ice Coring

Antarctica: A "Horizontal Ice Core" for Large-Volume Samples of the Past Atmosphere

Point(s) of Contact: Jeff Severinghaus, Scripps Inst of Oceanography (UCSD)
Schedule: 11/17/2010 - 1/30/2011
Equipment: Hand Auger, Sidewinder, Blue Ice Drill
Summary: This project will develop a precise gas-based chronology for an archive of large-volume samples of the ancient atmosphere, which will enable ultra-trace gas measurements that are currently precluded by sample size limitations of ice cores. The project will provide a critical test of the "clathrate hypothesis" that methane clathrates contributed to the two abrupt atmospheric methane concentration increases during the last deglaciation 15,000 and 11,000 years ago. The project will use large volumes of ice to measure carbon-14 on past atmospheric methane across the abrupt events.


WAIS Divide Ice Core Project

Antarctica: West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide Ice Core

Point(s) of Contact: Kendrick Taylor, Desert Research Institute
Schedule: 11/17/2010 - 1/28/2011
Equipment: DISC Drill
Project Web Page: West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Ice Core Project
Summary: West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide is a United States deep ice coring project in West Antarctica funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The purpose of the WAIS Divide project is to collect a deep ice core covering approximately one glacial cycle from the ice divide in central West Antarctica. The WAIS Divide ice core will provide Antarctic records of environmental change for the last ~100,000 years with high time resolution and will be the first Southern Hemisphere climate record of comparable time resolution and duration to the Greenland GISP2, GRIP, North GRIP, and NEEM ice cores.