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

Project Title

Initiation of the Antarctic slope front in West Antarctica

no photo available
O-124-N Research Location(s): Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1644172

Program Manager:
Dr. Peter Milne

ASC POC/Implementer:
David Rivera / Bruce Felix

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Andrew F Thompson
California Institute of Technology
Geological and Planetary Sciences
Pasadena, California


Supporting Stations: RV/IB Nathaniel B. Palmer
Research Locations: Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas


The Antarctic Slope Front (ASF) is a persistent, V-shaped feature of the continental shelf and slope around much of Antarctica. It is a notable yet under-sampled component of Southern Ocean circulation. The ASF is a primary source region for the renewal of Antarctic surface water from below and also bottom water flow into the global deep ocean. There is considerable interest in understanding the exchanges and transformations of ASF ocean heat, gases, salt, nutrients, particulates, and carbon through exchanges with components of the high-latitude ocean, polar atmosphere, sea ice, and land ice. This project will conduct a survey of the frontal circulation along the continental shelf break and the major troughs of the Bellingshausen Sea using both ocean gliders and ship-based instruments.

Field Season Overview

The team will sail to the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) where they will deploy three gliders and collect high-resolution conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) and lowered acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) measurements to map the evolution of the ASF from the base of the WAP, across the Belgica Trough, to the border between the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas. The first glider will be deployed east of Latady Trough and fly west. The second glider will be deployed in the western Bellingshausen Sea and will travel east, eventually meeting up with the first glider. The gliders will survey the troughs for three months before transiting to Marguerite Trough for recovery by the British Antarctic Survey from Rothera Station.

Deploying Team Members

  • Maria del Mar Flexas Sbert
  • Lena Schulze
  • Elizabeth Simons
  • Kevin Speer (Co-PI)
  • Andrew Thompson (PI)