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)

2014-2015 Antarctic
Map of Antarctica showing fieldwork location

Antarctica: A 1500m Ice Core from South Pole

Point of Contact: Eric Saltzman, University of California - Irvine
Point of Contact: Eric Steig, University of Washinton
Point of Contact: Mark Twickler, University of New Hampshire
Schedule: November 2014 - January 2015 (estimated)
Equipment: Intermediate Depth Drill
Project Web Page: South Pole 1500m Ice Core
Summary: The South Pole Ice Core project is a U.S. effort to drill and recover a new ice core from South Pole, Antarctica. The ice core will be drilled to a depth of 1500 meters, providing an environmental record spanning approximately 40,000 years that will be used to investigate the magnitude and timing of changes in climate and climate forcing through time. Drilling is planned for 2014-2015 (~700 m / through the Holocene) and 2015-2016 (to 1500 m / 40,000 years). The ice core we will obtain will be 9.8 cm in diameter.


LIMA image of the Taylor Glacier region of Antarctica

Antarctica: Using 14C in Ice to Understand the Past Methane Budget and Cosmogenic Production Rates

Point of Contact: Vasilii Petrenko, University of Rochester
Website: http://rochestericelab.wordpress.com/
Schedule: November 2014 - January 2015 (estimated)
Equipment: Blue Ice Drill
Summary: Using the Blue Ice Drill, this project will collect large-diameter ice cores to (1) investigate carbon-14 of methane in ice during the last deglaciation and the Early Holocene, (2) investigate the carbon-14 of methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide produced in ice by cosmic rays, and (3) continue to age-map the outcropping ice stratigraphy of Taylor Glacier.


Image of winch tent at WAIS Divide

Antarctica: Temperature Logging of the WAIS Divide Borehole, West Antarctica

Point of Contact: Gary Clow, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
Schedule: November 2014 - January 2015 (estimated)
Equipment: Deep Logging Winch
Summary: This project will use the USGS high−precision temperature logging tool to verify the condition of the main WAIS Divide borehole prior to the use of any other logging instruments. The temperature data resulting from the test will subsequently be used to refine estimates of the geothermal heat flow at the site, the melting rate at the base of the ice sheet, and to reconstruct past surface temperatures using borehole paleothermometry.


Image of Penn State seismic logging team at WAIS Divide

Antarctica: Seismic Logging of the WAIS Divide Borehole, West Antarctica

Point of Contact: Leo Peters, Penn State University
Schedule: November 2014 - January 2015 (estimated)
Equipment: Deep Logging Winch
Summary: This project will utilize the borehole at WAIS Divide to collect a vertical seismic profile (VSP) of the entire ice column to constrain seismic properties through the ice column and link these observations to the physical properties of the ice core itself. The project will also perform a detailed surface−based active seismic experiment to thoroughly image the bed at WAIS Divide and see how well the two experiments correlate to each other. Since seismic attenuation is most sensitive to temperature, the project will use these two seismic datasets collected to create a model for constraining the temperature profile through the ice column.


Image of USGS deep logging winch

Antarctica: Optical Fabric and Fiber Logging of Glacial Ice

Point of Contact: Ryan Bay, University of California-Berkeley
Point of Contact: Joey Talghader, University of Minnesota
Schedule: November 2014 - January 2015 (estimated)
Equipment: Deep Logging Winch
Summary: This project will profile WAIS Divide boreholes with optical logging instruments that permit the study of dust, crystal structure and ice fabric. In addition, the project will develop novel light-weight fiber-optic instrumentation that allows complex optical sources, electronics, and detectors to remain at the surface, while fibers transmit signals to and from the borehole during logging.


Image of USGS Deep Logging Winch

Antarctica: Velvet Ice - Evolution of Fabric and Texture in Ice at WAIS Divide, West Antarctica

Point of Contact: Erin Pettit, University of Alaska-Fairbanks
Point of Contact: Rachel Obbard, Dartmouth College
Schedule: November 2014 - January 2015 (estimated)
Equipment: Deep Logging Winch
Summary: The Velvet Ice project will conduct repeat borehole logging of the WAIS Divide deep borehole to study three primary questions:
1. How does the evolution of ice microstructure with time and stress in an ice sheet relate to impurity content, temperature history, and strain rate history?
2. How do variations in ice microstructure (and impurity content?) affect large-scale (1m to 1000m) ice flow patterns near ice sheet centers?
3. In what ways is the spatial variability of ice microstructure and its affect on ice flow important for interpretation of climate history in the WAIS Divide ice core?

The answers to these questions require integrating existing ice core and borehole data with a detailed study of ice microstructure using Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) techniques in combination with careful measurements of borehole deformation through time using Acoustic and Optical Televiewers.


Satelite image of Antarctica

Antarctica: Roosevelt Island Borehole Logging

Point of Contact: Bob Hawley, Dartmouth College
Schedule: January 2015 (estimated)
Equipment: Logging Tower
Summary: The project will measure the internal properties of the ice at Roosevelt Island via borehole logging. Specific logging measurements include: ice temperature, sonic velocity in the ice (a proxy for preferred crystal orientation fabric), and optical properties of the ice in the borehole.