2002-2003 Science Planning Summary


Dr. Julie Palais
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 01-25570
Station: McMurdo Station
RPSC POC: Joni English
Research Site(s): TAMSEIS Camp

Characteristics of snow megadunes and their potential effects on ice core interpretation
Dr. Theodore A. Scambos
University of Colorado Boulder
National Snow & Ice Data Center
Dr. Mark Fahnestock
University of New Hampshire

Deploying Team Members: Mary R Albert . Robert J Bauer . Mark A Fahnestock . Theodore A Scambos . Christopher A Shuman
Research Objectives: The extensive snow 'megadune' areas of the East Antarctic Plateau appear to be the result of intense snow-atmosphere interaction, caused by katabatic wind flow (at about 20 knots for 11 months of the year) and ablation/vapor redeposition of firn. The features are extremely subtle, 2 to 4 meters in amplitude over a 2 to 4 kilometer wavelength. January and December provides good conditions for this work, including temperatures of -25 to -30 Centigrade and lighter winds than other times of the year. Earlier field reports indicate that the surface of the leeward faces of the dunes is very smooth.

This group plans to conduct ground penetrating radar surveys, global positioning surveys, firn cores, pit sampling, AWS (automatic weather station) installation, and snow permeability experiments. The overall objective is to determine the physical and chemical characteristics of the dunes, and investigate whether dunes may have an effect on the interpretation of climate in deep ice cores.

Field Season Overview:
Project team members will travel by Twin Otter to TAMSEIS Camp (Trans-Antarctic Mountains Seismic Camp) where they will acclimate before flying to their work location at the megadune study site. Researchers will conduct ground-penetrating radar surveys, GPS surveys, 15-20 meter firn cores, snow-pit sampling, and snow permeability experiments. They will also install an automated weather station (AWS).