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)

2015-2016 Antarctic
LIMA image of Allan Hills Antarctica region

Antarctica: Hunting for 1 Million Year Old Ice in the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area

Point of Contact: John Higgins, Princeton University
Point of Contact: Ed Brook, Oregon State University
Point of Contact: Paul Mayewski, University of Maine
Schedule: November - December 2015 (estimated)
Equipment: Badger-Eclipse Drill, Hand Auger with Sidewinder
Summary: Previous field expeditions to the Allan Hills blue ice area have recovered ice cores that date to one million years, the oldest ice cores yet recovered from Antarctica. These records have revealed that interglacial CO2 concentrations decreased by 800,000 years ago and that, in the warmer world 1 million years ago, CO2 and Antarctic temperature were linked as during the last 800,000 years. This project will return to the Allan Hills blue ice area to recover additional ice cores that date to 1 million years or older. The climate records developed from the drilled ice cores will provide new insights into the chemical composition of the atmosphere and Antarctic climate during times of comparable or even greater warmth than the present day.


Satellite image of Crary Ice Rise Antarctica

Antarctica: Crary Ice Rise Grounding Line Dynamics

Point of Contact: Howard Conway, University of Washington
Point of Contact: Paul Winberry, Central Washington University
Schedule: November 1, 2015 - January 15, 2016 (estimated)
Equipment: Small Hot Water Drill
Summary: The project aims to understand the dynamics of ice rises — grounded islands within ice shelves — as they result in a major resistive force on ice flowing from the grounded ice sheets into the ocean. An integrated collection of geophysical observations, including radar and active source seismic experiments, on both the Crary Ice Rise and across its grounding line will be used to address questions about how the ice rise affects ice discharge from the Ross Sea sector of West Antarctica. The IDDO small hot water drill will be used to create the shot holes needed for the seismic work.


Kathy Licht

Antarctica: Climatic and Glaciological Controls on Formation of High-Altitude Ablation Moraines

Point of Contact: Kathy Licht, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Point of Contact: Michael Kaplan, Columbia University
Schedule: November 1, 2015 - January 15, 2016 (estimated)
Equipment: Hand Auger
Project Web Page: http://earthsciences.iupui.edu/research/klicht/
Summary: Using a PICO Hand Auger, this project will collect short ice cores from the Mt. Achernar, Transantarctic Mountains, region to recover ice for visual inspection and various types of isotopic analysis. The primary objective of the project is to gain an improved understanding of processes and rates of blue ice moraine formation, as well as identifying the topographic, glaciological, and climatic controls on their evolution. Field data related to ice motion and internal stratigraphy will be collected and used as part of a baseline dataset for a numerical model.


Lead driller Tanner Kuhl guides drill into position to start drilling operations. Photo credit Murat Aydin

Antarctica: A 1500m Ice Core from South Pole

Point of Contact: Murat Aydin, University of California - Irvine
Point of Contact: Eric Steig, University of Washinton
Point of Contact: Mark Twickler, University of New Hampshire
Schedule: November 2015 - January 2016 (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.


Sampling firn air at the South Pole

Antarctica: Inert Gas and Methane Based Climate Records throughout the South Pole Deep Ice Core

Point of Contact: Todd Sowers, Penn State University
Point of Contact: Jeff Severinghaus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Schedule: December 2015 - January 2016 (estimated)
Equipment: Badger-Eclipse Drill
Summary: Using the Badger-Eclipse Drill and one IDDO driller, the project will incrementally drill two 3-inch diameter holes to 130 meters depth for firn air sampling near the South Pole Ice (SPICE) Core deep drill site. The primary objective of the project is to construct the gas chronology for the South Pole ice core using inert gases (d15N, d40Ar) and methane in combination with a next-generation firn densification model. Reconstruction of the inert gases and methane in the South Pole ice core will improve the dating of the ice core record, to unprecedented precision, which will enhance the overall scientific return from the ice core.


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 2015 - January 2016 (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.


The Blue Ice Drill is used to extract ice cores from Taylor Glacier for a study using microscopic grains of dust to understand past atmospheric and climate conditions on Earth.

Antarctica: Climate Controls on Aerosol Fluxes to Taylor Dome and Taylor Glacier

Point of Contact: Sarah Aciego, University of Michigan
Website: http://giglinthefield.wordpress.com/
Schedule: December 1, 2015 - January 31, 2016 (estimated)
Equipment: Blue Ice Drill
Summary: This project will collect approximately 10 shallow ice cores at Taylor Glacier and analyze them for dust concentration, dust size distribution, bulk major elements, bulk trace elements, and radiogenic isotope composition. These measurements will be used to deduce the changing climate of the Taylor Dome area from the Last Glacial Maximum through the Holocene.