2020-2021 Science Planning Summaries
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2020-2021 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Thwaites-Amundsen Regional Survey and Network (TARSAN): integrating atmosphere-ice-ocean processes affecting the sub-ice-shelf environment

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C-445-M Research Location(s): Thwaites Glacier


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Paul Cutler

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Dean Einerson / Leslie Blank

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Erin Pettit
Oregon State University
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
Corvallis, Oregon

Dr. Karen Heywood
University of East Anglia
School of Environmental Sciences
Norwich, United Kingdom


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Thwaites Glacier


TARSAN (Thwaites-Amundsen Regional Survey and Network) is a part of ITGC (International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration), a multi-disciplinary effort led by the U.S. and U.K. Antarctic programs. TARSAN research has ocean- and land-based components, with the goal to assess regional climate, ice, and ocean conditions and processes that are governing the retreat and acceleration of Thwaites Glacier. The project combines extensive vessel-based data from casts, moorings, and instrumented seals with land-based observations from AMIGOS (Automated Meteorology-Ice-Ocean Geophysics Systems) instruments that measure ocean, ice, and weather conditions. A set of geophysical surveys of two of the major ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea embayment -- Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf (TEIS) and Dotson Ice Shelf, are characterizing the ice shelf stability and sub-ice-shelf structure. The geophysical surveys include radar profiles, phase-sensitive radar vertical profiles (ApRES), seismic profiles, and detailed GPS measurements.

Field Season Overview

This season the team will service two atmosphere-ice-ocean multi-sensor remote autonomous station (AMIGOS) and two autonomous phase-sensitive radio-echo sounder radar (ApRES) installed at two locations on Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf during the 2019-20 field season to ensure that they will be able to continue collecting data until recovered in early 2023 or 2024. The NSF priority for science support tasking in West Antarctica in 2020-21 is to manage or recover scientific instruments to maintain their viability for future seasons. This scope of work will be accomplished by ASC contractor staff and one technician provided by UNAVCO and PASSCAL agencies utilizing existing fuel inventories established in West Antarctica during the 2019-20 field season.