2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
Read the latest information from NSF on coronavirus (COVID-19)
2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Ice dynamics at the intersection of the West and East Antarctic Ice Sheets

South Pole Station. Photo by Robert Schwarz. Image courtesy of NSF/USAP Photo Library. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
I-175-M/S Research Location(s): Hercules Dome


Event Number:

Program Director:
Dr. Kelly Brunt

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Jenny Cunningham

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Knut A Christianson
University of Washington
Earth and Space Sciences


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


Researchers will use ground-based, ice-penetrating radar to survey the stratigraphy and bed topography at Hercules Dome and infer changes in ice dynamics and ice-sheet elevation. The work will help determine past ice-sheet changes that may relate to the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Additionally, the work may verify the existence of a divide flow and internal stratigraphy that could help determine whether this site is suitable for a deep ice-core drilling project. This year's focus will be on taking repeat englacial velocity measurements with phase-sensitive ice-penetrating radar, and measuring surface velocities with GPS sensors.

Field Season Overview

Four participants will deploy to McMurdo Station, then on to South Pole Station in early-to-mid November. After acclimatizing, a groom team will deploy via Twin Otter to the camp site at Hercules Dome West (HDW). After skiway grooming and cache raising, the group will set up their field camp and reside there for 4-5 weeks. Operating in teams of two or more, participants will drive snowmobiles towing radar equipment along transects to perform radar and kinematic GPS surveys. They will use deep sounding radar, shallow sounding radar, and phase sensitive radar. They plan to drive approximately 25 miles of transects per day, and up to 500 miles over the season. All work will be done within approximately 30 miles of the HDW camp site. The group will also conduct GPS surveys and establish a grid of coordinates with physical markers.

Prior to or following Hercules Dome work, the team will clean up artifacts from a previous science experiment at South Pole Lake, within 18 miles of South Pole Station. Work will consist of snowmobile commutes to the site to remove conduit and flags.

Deploying Team Members

  • Emma Erwin
  • Tyler Fudge (Co-PI)
  • Benjamin Hills (Team Leader)
  • Liam Kirkpatrick