Collaborative Research: Norwegian-United States IPY Scientific Traverse: Climate Variability and Glaciology in East Antarctica

Affiliation(s)PIProject periodFunded by
DHS McConnell, Joseph R 02/01/2007 - 01/31/2010 National Science Foundation

Project Description

One of the most pressing environmental issues of our time is the need to understand the mechanisms of current global climate change (NRC, 2004) and the associated impacts on global economic and political systems (NRC, 2002). In order to predict the future with confidence, we need a clear understanding of past and present changes in the Polar Regions and the role these changes play in the global climate system. A significant portion of the fresh water on Earth exists as snow and ice in the Antarctic ice sheet. A massive, largely unexplored region, the East Antarctic ice sheet looms large in the global climate system, yet relatively little is known about its climate variability or the contribution it makes to sea level changes. The core of this project involves scientific investigations along two overland traverses in East Antarctica: one going from the Norwegian Troll Station (72? S, 2? E) to the United States South Pole Station (90? S, 0? E) in 2007-2008; and a return traverse starting at South Pole Station and ending at Troll Station by a different route in 2008-2009. The project will start in 2006-7 with a year of analyzing existing samples taken near Troll, collaborative data mining and synthesis of previous studies, testing of equipment and techniques near Troll, and positioning fuel along the first year route. The final year of the project, 2009-10, will be for collaborative analyses, synthesis, and writing. This project will investigate climate change in East Antarctica, with the goals of: (1) Understanding climate variability in Dronning Maud Land of East Antarctica on time scales of years to centuries, (2) determining the surface and net mass balance of the ice sheet in this sector to understand its impact on sea level, (3) investigating the impact of atmospheric and oceanic variability on the chemical composition of firn and ice in the region, and (4) revisiting areas and sites first explored by traverses in the 1960?s, for detection of possible changes and to establish benchmark datasets for future research efforts.