2002-2003 Science Planning Summary


Dr. Julie Palais
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 01-25579
Station: McMurdo Station
RPSC POC: Karla College
Research Site(s): Taylor Valley

Dynamics and climatic response of the Taylor Glacier system
Dr. Kurt Cuffey
University of California Berkeley
Department of Geography
Dr. David Morse
University of Texas, Austin

Deploying Team Members: Sarah Aciego . Andrew K Bliss . Kurt Cuffey . Jeffrey L Kavanaugh . David L Morse
Research Objectives: Taylor Glacier drains from Taylor Dome eastward and terminates in Taylor Valley at Lake Bonney. This glacier connects the Taylor Dome region, studied extensively in the early-mid 1990s, to the Taylor Valley ecosystem. Understanding the flow and response of this system is essential for interpreting the glacial geologic record in the southern Dry Valleys, and for understanding long-term changes in the Taylor Valley ecosystem physical environment (especially Lake Bonney).

This project's objective is to understand the Taylor Glacier: how it flows, and how it responds to climatic changes. Project team members will build a comprehensive set of measurements of surface velocity and ablation rates along Taylor Glacier, and also to map subglacial topography. The proposed work is an outgrowth of work done by the New Zealand Program in the mid-1980s (Robinson) and by the University of Washington in 1992-93. Researchers on this project participated in that effort, and in that context completed cross-valley surveys of velocity and basal topography at several locations. In this project, they seek to vastly increase this data set for use in a modeling program to understand climatic response of the Taylor Glacier system. Surface velocities, strain rates, ablation rates, ice thickness, and subglacial topography will be measured.

Field Season Overview:
Project team members plan to complete a traverse of the Taylor Glacier along a center flow line from about 400-meter elevation in Taylor Valley to about a 1,750-meter elevation on the flank of Taylor Dome. Using helicopter support and snowmobiles, the team will place a network of 264 GPS-located stakes along the traverse to measure glacier velocity and oblation and will collect a small amount of ice samples for shipment back to their home institutions. They will also conduct surveys using ice-penetrating radar to determine subglacial topography along the traverse route.