2002-2003 Science Planning Summary


Dr. Julie Palais
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 99-04947
Station: McMurdo Station
RPSC POC: Kirk Salveson
Research Site(s): Traverse from Byrd Surface Camp to South Pole

U.S. ITASE: Stable isotope studies at West Antarctic ITASE sites
Dr. Eric Steig
University of Washington
Department of Earth & Space Sciences
Dr. James White
University of Colorado Boulder
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
Dr. Christopher Shuman
University of Maryland
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center

Deploying Team Members: See U.S. ITASE Management (IU-153-A)
Research Objectives: This group will perform stable isotope analyses of samples collected during the traverses in West Antarctica. Using instrument and remote-sensing temperature histories, they 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. This projects objectives are to:

- Obtain detailed oxygen-18, deuterium, deuterium-excess, and stratigraphic histories in snow pits 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 scientistsí ability to interpret isotope records from older and deeper antarctic ice cores.

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.