2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

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

PistenBullys and sleds for the 88S Traverse, in support of NASA’s ICESat-2.
Photo by: Kelly Brunt
X-594-M/S Research Location(s): Traverse from South Pole along the 88° S line of latitude


Event Number:
NSF / NASA Agreement

Program Manager:
Dr. Michael Jackson

ASC POC/Implementer:
J. Rand / J. Blum / T. Ager / N. Scheibe / C. Naughton

Principal Investigator(s)

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

This team will perform a second PistenBully traverse associated with a ground-based GPS survey for the validation of NASA's ICESat-2 elevation and elevation-change data products. The 750 km traverse route is along the 87.979° S line of latitude, approximately 224 km from South Pole. Each traverse will have two NASA participants, one support-contractor mountaineer, and one support-contractor mechanic. Participants will initially spend about one week at McMurdo Station to gather field gear. Once at South Pole, the team will acclimatize and prepare for the traverse. 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. The traverse is estimated to again take about 15 days to complete.

Deploying Team Members

  • Kelly Brunt (PI)
  • Adam Greeley