2023-2024 Science Planning Summary
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2023-2024 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): South Pole


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: South Pole


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 season, the fourth of four traverses will be made to obtain ground-based GPS survey data for the validation of NASA's ICESat-2 elevation and elevation-change data products. The traverse begins and ends at South Pole, following the same wedge-shaped, 750 km route previously used. During this traverse, the science team intends to reoccupy a number of specific sites previously occupied and remove all equipment previously left in the field. The field team will consist of two NASA participants assisted by two ASC staff with mountaineer and mechanic skillsets. The field team will outfit and train in McMurdo prior to deploying to South Pole to join up with their primary equipment (two PistenBully tracked vehicles). The PistenBullys will haul a 60-foot sled train, consisting of fully deployed sleeping tents, a kitchen tent, and fuel and cargo needed for the traverse. The 750 km traverse takes about 15 days moving at a rate of about 50 km per day.

Deploying Team Members

  • Kelly Brunt (Co-PI)
  • Tyler Sutterley