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

Project Title

POLENET Antarctica: Investigating links between geodynamics and ice sheets - Phase 2

POLENET Antarctica: Investigating links between geodynamics and ice sheets - Phase 2


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1249631

Program Manager:
Dr. Douglas Kowalewski

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator

Dr. Terry Wilson

Ohio State University
Geological Sciences and Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
Columbus, Ohio

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Byrd Camp / Union Glacier / WAIS Divide


Phase 2 of the Antarctic-POLENET project (ANET) will continue and expand GPS and seismic studies to advance understanding of geodynamic processes and their influence on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The Phase 2 ANET instrumentation will add nine remote continuous GPS stations, to be deployed in collaboration with UK and Italian partners. In partnership with UK colleagues, a high-resolution crustal and mantle seismic array will traverse the deep subglacial basins underlying the catchments of the glacio-dynamically critical Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers. Absolute gravity data will provide independent data on crustal uplift and mass change, helping discriminate rebound driven by modern versus ancient ice-mass change. The integrated geodetic and geophysical data will allow testing of key hypotheses about the history and dynamics of the WAIS and interactions with the solid earth beneath. Both the viscoelastic response of the solid earth, constraining mass change since the Last Glacial Maximum, and the elastic response, resulting from mass change within the last few decades, can be modeled from these measurements together with earth properties derived from seismic data. The ice mass change estimates will allow better estimates of Antarctic ice sheet contributions to global sea level change.

Field Season Overview

Field team members this season will service existing GPS/seismic stations, remove the mini-array of 10 seismic stations on ice, and remove three GPS and three seismic systems from remote field sites. The group will conduct their work with fixed-wing aircraft support from Antarctic Logistics and Expedition's (ALE) Union Glacier field camp and from West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide field camp. They will have a combination of fixed-wing and helicopter support from McMurdo Station. The team will service ten stations from Union Glacier. They will visit 16 stations in the Amundsen Embayment and Marie Byrd Land sectors for maintenance and data retrieval. McMurdo Station will be the hub for servicing six-to-eight existing GPS/seismic stations. There will be a number of flights (helicopter and fixed wing) from McMurdo to retrieve all site equipment, including the large number of batteries. A twin otter will be used to decommission the mini array seismic network from West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide. The priority for GPS/seismic site visits is: (1) Sites that are not fully operational; (2a) Sites that have known problems and/or have not been visited in two years; (2b) Sites selected for decommissioning and removal from the field; and (3) Fully-functioning sites needing minor maintenance and/or visits to download seismic data.

Deploying Team Members

  • Audrey Huerta
  • J.R. Roberts
  • Michael Roberts
  • David Saddler
  • Mark Whetu
  • Terry Wilson (PI)
  • J. Paul Winberry