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The U.S. component of the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition (U.S. ITASE) conducts radar studies to determine the internal stratigraphy and bedrock topography of the terrain along the traverses. To help in the selection of core sites as the traverse proceeds, the radar provides immediate information (to those working in the field) on ice thickness and the structure of internal layers. These data can also be used to site deeper, millennial scale cores (planned at less frequent intervals along the traverse), and to provide a context for selecting the location of the deep inland core (planned for the future). In addition to mapping the traverse route, radar is used to examine a grid surrounding each of the core locations, to better characterize the accumulation and bedrock topography in each area.
This radar system works as a complement to that operated by the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). Theirs is a high-frequency radar, most suited to the shallower portion of the record down to approximately 60 meters (m); it can detect near-surface crevasses. Our radar system is most sensitive at depths below 60 m and is able to depict deep bedrock and internal geological layers deep into the ice. (IU-133-O)(IU-153-A)
Science Management for U.S. ITASE
Paul A. Mayewski and Mark S. Twickler, University of New Hampshire.
The Science Management Office (SMO) coordinates the effort developed for U.S. ITASE, the broad aim of which is to develop an understanding of the last 200 years of west antarctic climate and environmental change. ITASE is a multidisciplinary program integrating remote sensing, meteorology, ice coring, surface glaciology and geophysics. To marshal this effort, SMO runs a series of annual workshops to coordinate the science projects that will be involved in ITASE. They also establish and operate the logistics base that supports ground-based sampling in West Antarctica. (IU-153-A)(IU-153-B)
U.S. ITASE Glaciochemistry
Paul A. Mayewski and Loren D. Meeker, University of New Hampshire.
Among the research targets for scientists in U.S. ITASE are the impact of anthropogenic activity on the climate and atmospheric chemistry of West Antarctica and the variations in biogeochemical cycling of sulfur and nitrogen compounds over the last 200 years.
This 5-year project is conducting glaciochemical analyses of the major anions and cations to be found in shallow and intermediate depth ice cores collected on the U.S. ITASE traverses. The ionic composition of polar ice cores provides one of the basic stratigraphic tools for relative dating. These data can also be used to document changes in chemical-species source emissions, which in turn facilitate mapping and characterization of the major atmospheric circulation systems affecting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. (IU-153-B)(IU-155-O)
Snow and firn microstructure and transport properties: U. S. ITASE
Mary R. Albert and Robert E Davis,
U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.
Not all valuable data are buried deep within the ice. The microstructure and bulk properties of snow and firn near and at the surface control the air/snow/firn transport processes; i.e., how heat, vapor, and chemical species in air are incorporated into snow and polar firn. Since many of the snow and firn properties will also affect how radiation in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum behaves, such field measurements provide a valuable baseline profile against which to range complementary efforts that use remote sensing to map the spatial variations of snow, firn and ice properties.
This project does the field and lab work to characterize snow and firn properties along the U.S. ITASE traverses in West Antarctica. We provide field measurements of snow and firn properties near the surface (down to 2 meters), including surface roughness, permeability, density, grain size, surface-to-volume ratio, and tortuosity. In the laboratory, firn cores from as deep as 20 meters will be analyzed for these properties and for their microstructure. Ultimately, we will develop a transport model to elucidate the nature of the air/snow/firn exchange and the firnification process at the various sites along the U.S. ITASE traverse. (IU-155-O)(IU-158-O)
Hydrogen peroxide, formaldehyde, and sub-annual snow accumulation in
West Antarctica: Participation in west antarctic traverse.
Roger C. Bales, University of Arizona.
Atmospheric photochemistry leaves valuable traces in snow, firn and ice; it has been verified that the efficiency of atmosphere-to-snow transfer and the preservation of hydrogen peroxide and formaldehyde are both strongly related to temperature and also to the rate and timing of snow accumulation. Thus measurements of these components in the firn and atmosphere will provide data needed to study changes in tropospheric chemistry of the boundary layer over West Antarctica.
This project will collect samples and take atmospheric measurements along the U.S. ITASE traverses. The wide-ranging extent of these traverses will train the scientific lens upon a variety of locations, covering much of the west antarctic region, and reflecting a range of different depositional environments.
We will measure the concentration of seasonally dependent species (such as hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, formaldehyde and stable isotopes of oxygen) on all samples and feed them into a recently developed, physically based, atmosphere-to-snow transfer model in order to elucidate the photochemistry that led to the depositions. In addition, data we develop on current atmospheric levels of hydrogen peroxide, higher peroxides such as methylhydroperoxide, and formaldehyde will constrain model boundary conditions and the state of photochemistry in the austral summer. (IU-158-O)(IU-178-O)
Mass balance and accumulation rate along U.S. ITASE routes.
Gordon S. Hamilton, University of Maine; Ian M. Whillans, The Ohio State University.
The polar ice sheets and the snow falling on them are important components of the global hydrological cycle. Yet, because of their very large size and remote locations, we have only a limited understanding of their mass balance (rate of thickness change) or the spatial distribution of snow accumulation. Work conducted as part of the U.S. ITASE seeks to improve this understanding.
This 5-year project involves measuring the rate of ice-sheet thickening (or thinning) at selected sites along flow lines, on ice divides, and along elevation contours. The measurements compare the vertical velocity of ice (obtained from precise global positioning system surveys of markers buried 5-20 m deep in the surface firn) with the local, long-term average snow accumulation rate evident in ice-core stratigraphy. Earlier work demonstrates that very precise rates of thickness change can be measured using this technique.
We are also studying spatial variations in accumulation rates, probing the link between snow accumulation and surface topography. Continuously operating, autonomous instruments will be deployed at several closely spaced sites that have very different slope gradients. The instruments will record snow accumulation, wind speed and direction, firn compaction and firn temperature. These results will enable us to test hypotheses of the physical processes of snow deposition and erosion.
We shall also investigate the ice flow effects on accumulation rates derived from U.S. ITASE ice-core records. At sites along flow lines, ice cores record the integrated accumulation rate history for a certain distance up-glacier of the core site. Changes in surface topography along this flow line will lead to apparent accumulation rate variations in the ice-core record. By studying local ice dynamics (horizontal velocities, surface slope) around each ice core site, we will be able to better understand the cause of accumulation rate variations in the core records. (IU-178-O)(IU-193-O)
Stable-isotope studies at West Antarctic U.S. ITASE Sites.
Eric Steig, University of Pennsylvania; James White and Christopher Shuman, University of Colorado-Boulder, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.
As participants in U.S. ITASE, we will perform stable isotope analyses of samples collected during the traverses in West Antarctica. Using instrumental and remote-sensing temperature histories, we will focus on the spatial and temporal distribution of oxygen-18 and deuterium in West Antarctica (where data are particularly sparse) and the calibration of the isotope/climate relationship on a site-by-site basis.
Our objectives are to
• obtain detailed oxygen-18, deuterium, deuterium-excess, and stratigraphic histories in snowpits at most or all of the U.S. ITASE coring sites;
• provide direct calibration of the isotope/climate relationship at each site, through a combination of direct (Automatic Weather Stations) and indirect (passive microwave satellite) temperature measurements;
• obtain isotope profiles covering the last 200 years; and
• use the results to provide climate histories at high temporal and broad spatial resolution across West Antarctica for the past two centuries.
These climate histories will provide the context to test relationships that have been proposed among isotopes, moisture source conditions, synoptic scale climatology, and site-specific meteorological parameters. They will also enhance our ability to interpret isotope records from older and deeper antarctic ice cores. (IU-193-O)(IU-311-0)
High-resolution radar profiling of the snow and ice stratigraphy beneath the U.S. ITASE traverses, West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Steven Arcone, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory
Ice core measurements provide historical profiles of snow accumulation and chemistry at only the point where the core was drilled which - along the U.S. ITASE traverses - is every 100 kilometers (km). Subsurface radar, by contrast, provides reflection profiles of continuous horizons, generally related to density and chemistry contrasts; but their continuity strongly suggests that they are isochronal (that is, demonstrate regularity of period). Thus they can be used to track particular years between core sites and to provide a broad and more meaningful average of year-to-year accumulation rates, given the time versus depth calibrations from the cores.
This project is tracking these reflection horizons between core sites using high-resolution ground-penetrating, short-pulse radar. Our main antenna system uses a pulse centered near 400 MHz, which provides vertical resolution of about 35 centimeters (cm), and records reflections from a depth in firn of about 60 meters (m). During the first year of U.S. ITASE, we tracked some horizons for distances of more than 190 km and found depth variations as great as 22 m over a 5 km stretch. The variations are caused by surface topography, which affects local accumulation rates and ice movement.
We are also using a wide range of frequencies (as high as 10 GHz and as low as 100 MHz) to distinguish between conductivity and density as a cause of the reflections. The horizon tracking develop spatially averaged, historical accumulation rates; these can be correlated with GPS data to find the effects of topography upon local accumulation rates. In addition, the radar is also being used for advanced crevasse detection. (IU-311-0)
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