2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

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

Collecting ice-penetrating radar near South Pole. Photo by David Lilien.


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 third of four seasons for this event. Four participants will spend approximately two weeks working out of South Pole Station and at their remote field camp, 50 km from station, where instruments were installed last season. Two team members will conduct GPS and radar surveying via snowmobile along transects radiating out up to 100km from South Pole. They will again tow a Conestoga for shelter during these day trips. The other two team members will stay at the camp to perform instrument maintenance and borehole logging. All four members will be available to set up and take down the camp.

Deploying Team Members

  • David Clemens-Sewall
  • Howard Conway (Co-PI)
  • David Lilien
  • Christopher Stevens