2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

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

Photo by Kelly Brunt. Image courtesy of NSF/USAP Photo Library.
X-594-M/S Research Location(s):


Event Number:
NSF/NASA Agreement

Program Director:
Dr. Michael Jackson

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Jenny Cunningham / Paul Sullivan / Sheryl Seagraves

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Tom Allen Neumann
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Goddard Space Flight Center


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations:


This project conducts a high-precision GPS survey, based out of South Pole Station, along a 300 km segment of the 88 degrees south line-of-latitude. The goal is to produce 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 science event is the third 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 kilometer traverse route is along the 87.979° S line of latitude, approximately 224 kilometers from the South Pole. The traverse will have two NASA participants, one ASC mountaineer, and one Antarctic Support Contract (ASC) mechanic. Participants will spend one week at McMurdo Station to gather field gear and attend training before moving on to South Pole Station. Once at South Pole Station, the team will acclimatize and prepare the two PistenBully vehicles and sled platforms for the traverse. Each vehicle will have a GPS receiver operating at all times, with a third GPS antenna and receiver available for instrument redundancy. The team will collect GPS data and reoccupy their deployed LiDAR cornercube reflectors. The traverse is estimated to take approximately 15 days to complete.

Deploying Team Members

  • Kelly Brunt
  • Tom Neumann (PI)