2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 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

Photo by Rodney Fishbrook, courtesy of the USAP Photo Library.
C-445-M Research Location(s): Thwaites Glacier


Event Number:

Program Director:
Dr. Paul Cutler

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Jenny Cunningham / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator(s)

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

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

A team of nine people will be based at Cavity Camp and will work there and at nearby Channel Camp, which they will access by snow machines. Researchers will resurvey established ApRES and radar sites, recover AMIGOS station components and data, make observations of the firn column, collect precision surface topographic data using skidoos and UAV, and conduct additional seismic surveys using Distributed Acoustic Sensing laser-stimulated fiber. They will leave one AMIGOS tower with weather and precision GPS in place for continued monitoring with data transfer by iridium. Prior to their West Antarctica field deployment, the team will test equipment on the McMurdo Ice Shelf to confirm settings for instruments/equipment. The team includes one media professional who will film the team's activities for outreach.

Deploying Team Members

  • Gabriela Collao Barrios
  • Michelle Maclennan
  • Emelie Mahdavian
  • Cecelia Mortenson
  • Naomi Ochwat
  • Erin Pettit (PI)
  • Meghan Sharp
  • Christian Wild