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

Project Title

88S traverse: GPS survey for calibration and validation of ICESat-2 altimetry data

no photo available


Event Number:
NSF / NASA Agreement

Program Manager:
Dr. Michael Jackson

ASC POC/Implementer:
Neal Scheibe / Jennifer Blum / Shelly Finley / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator

Dr. Kelly M Brunt

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Marshall Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Maryland


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: Traverse from South Pole along the 88° S line of latitude


This project will conduct a high-precision GPS survey based out of South Pole Station, along the 88° S line of latitude. The goal is producing a large-scale dataset for the calibration of airborne and space-borne altimetry and to validate ICESat-2 elevation measurements. The traverse along the ICESat-2 ground track convergence zone represents the only large-scale, ice-based validation effort on a cold, relatively stable part of the ice-sheet interior.

Field Season Overview

During this, the first of four planned annual traverses, the science team will follow the South Pole traverse (SPOT) route out 232 Km and then travel 300 Km along the 88 degree South latitude line before returining to South Pole. They will capture GPS data and will also deploy LiDAR corner reflectors that they will maintain each subsequent season. Each traverse will have two NASA participants, one ASC-provided mountaineer, and one ASC-provided mechanic. Prior to going to the South Pole, all participants will spend one week at McMurdo Station to gather field gear and attend field trainings. Once at South Pole, the team will spend four days acclimatizing to the altitude and organizing their gear before departing on the traverse. The team will travel on two tracked vehicles. Each vehicle will have a roof-mounted GPS receiver operating at all times, and a third GPS antenna and receiver will be available for instrument redundancy. Each vehicle will also use two roof-mounted, downward-pointing ice-surface-roughness laser scanners. South Pole Station will provide one vehicle and McMurdo Station will provide the other. During the traverse, the team will camp in Scott and mountaineering tents, and will set up and take down their camp each day.The 750 km traverse will take approximately 15 days at a rate of 50 km per day to complete. Upon completion, the team will return to McMurdo where they will spend a few days returning their field gear.

Deploying Team Members

  • Kelly Brunt (PI)
  • Tom Neumann (Co-PI)