2002-2003 Science Planning Summary


Dr. Julie Palais
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 98-11857
Station: McMurdo Station
Research Site(s): Traverse from Byrd Surface Camp to South Pole

U.S. ITASE: Glaciochemistry
Dr. Paul A. Mayewski
University of Maine
Institute for Quaternary and Climate Studies

Deploying Team Members: See U.S. ITASE Management (IU-153-A)
Research Objectives: Among the research targets for scientists in the U.S. ITASE is the impact of anthropogenic activities 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.

Begun during the 1999-2000 austral summer, this five-year project focuses on 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.

Field Season Overview:
The ITASE project team and support contractor staff traverse West Antarctica from Byrd Surface Camp (BSC) to South Pole Station. Two trains pulled by Challenger 55 Caterpillar tractors will transport personnel, instruments, and field camp equipment. Along the way, team members will collect ice cores and surface snow and ice samples, take meteorological readings, and collect radar profiles of the ice sheet. Periodically, Twin Otter aircraft will resupply the traverse team and transport samples back to Byrd Surface Camp. At the end of the traverse, the group will return to McMurdo Station where they will begin to analyze some of their samples. Other samples will be returned to their home institutions.