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

Project Title

Characterization of upstream ice and firn dynamics affecting the South Pole Ice (SPICE) core

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Paul Cutler

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Jennifer Blum / Paul Sullivan

Principal Investigator

Dr. Michelle R Koutnik

University of Washington
Department of Earth and Space Sciences
Seattle, Washington


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: SPICE core upstream catchment


Ice-core records are critical to understanding past climate variations. Analysis of an Antarctic ice core recently drilled at the South Pole will allow detailed investigation of atmospheric gases and fill an important gap in understanding the pattern of climate variability across Antarctica. Critical to the interpretation of any ice core are: (1) accurate chronologies for both the ice and the trapped gas; and (2) demonstration that records from the ice core reliably reflect climate. The data collected from this team's research, now in its fourth and final season, will improve the ice and gas chronologies by making measurements of snow compaction in the upstream catchment in order to constrain age models of the ice. These measurements will help to better understand and predict time-varying conditions in the upper part of the ice sheet.

Field Season Overview

This is the second of four seasons for this event. Seven participants (including two IDDO drillers) will spend time working at South Pole Station, but the majority of their time will be spent at the remote field camp. A PistenBully will be used to travel between station and camp. The team will resurvey the GPS network to determine flowline and will collect ice penetrating radar data along the established flowline. They will drill up to 14 holes to depths ranging from 5-120 meters using an IDDO 4-inch drill system. The team will also hand-auger ten 12-meter cores and will collect and process one 120-meter firn core. Up to 24 ice cores in boxes will be transported from camp to station by approximately January 10. Team members will construct instrument platforms and install up to 12 strain meters and a 40-meter thermistor string as well.

Deploying Team Members

  • Howard Conway (Co-PI)
  • Maurice Conway
  • Christopher Stevens