2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Pathways of circumpolar deep water to West Antarctica from profiling float and satellite measurements

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Peter Milne

ASC POC/Implementer:
Chelsea Wegner / Adam Jenkins

Principal Investigator

Dr. James Bannister Girton

University of Washington
Seattle, Washington


Supporting Stations: RV/IB Nathaniel B. Palmer
Research Locations: Southern Ocean / Amundsen Sea


Researchers plan to investigate the Amundsen Sea pathways of circumpolar deep water (CDW) transport from the open ocean to the Antarctic continental shelf. Subsurface profiling floats equipped to operate under sea ice will be deployed south of the polar front and will measure shear, turbulence, temperature, and salinity to 2,000-meter depth on a two-year mission following the CDW layer. Aided by the velocity measurement technique of motional induction to improve under-ice navigation, the subsurface data collected by the floats will also be used to extrapolate the spatial and temporal coverage of satellite-derived surface currents to the deeper levels where CDW is found.

Field Season Overview

Participants will sail on the RVIB Nathaniel B Palmer on transit cruise NBP17-01 from Punta Arenas, Chile to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. En route, they will deploy three Electromagnetic Autonomous Profiling Explorer (EM-APEX) profiling floats in an ice free region of the seasonal ice zone in the Amundsen Sea sector. The target sites for these deployments will be along the cruise track planned for the transit at the intersection with primary satellite derived frontal pathways toward the continental slope. The team will also attempt to recover four EM-APEX floats that were deployed in previous years.

Deploying Team Members

  • Caitlin Whalen