Antarctica

Research

Click on the following year to jump to the Antarctica field work projects for that year. 

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2014

October to November 2014: NASA OIB mission to Antarctica using DC-8 aircraft, based out of Punta Arenas, Chile

This OIB mission started with the installation of the radar instruments on the NASA DC-8 aircraft, which took place from September 15 2014 until October 3 2014 at the NASA Armstrong research Center in Palmdale, California. This was followed by a two-day test flights (October 7th & 8th), which took place over the Dry Lake Alluvial Fan Volcanics Area in Palmdale, California as well as some parts of the Pacific Ocean. After the test flights were completed successfully, the DC-8 headed to Punta Arenas, Chile.

The first CReSIS team (Jilu Li, Aaron Wells, Bryan Townley, and Calen Carabajal) arrived at Punta Arenas, Chili on October 14th. On October 30th, the second CReSIS team (Jay Fuller and Bruno Camps Raja) arrived in Punta Arenas. The last science flight was flown on November 22nd. The team then headed back to the United States, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.Science flights were conducted over Antarctica whenever the weather permitted. A total of 22 science flights were accomplished in this deployment. The picture below shows some of the flight lines over Antarctica.

2013

Antarctica, Winter 2013-2014: Airborne Radar Survey Project with Manned Basler Aircraft (NSF I-189-M)

Photo courtesy of Alec Bowman

Figure 1: Photo of MKB Basler in flight with CReSIS radar and antenna configuration.

From November 29, 2013 to January 18, 2014, five CReSIS personnel [Carl Leuschen (KU), John Paden (KU), Stephen Yan (KU), Zongbo Wang (KU), and Aaron Wells (IU)] participated in an airborne radar survey project (event/project number I-189-M) using an instrumented Basler aircraft over the Siple Coast of Antarctica. The major objective of the field program was to collect fine-resolution radar data with our ultra-wideband (UWB) UHF/VHF radar depth sounder in conjunction with data from our ultra-wideband microwave radars.CReSIS’ radar suite, antenna systems, and a digital camera (provided through a collaborative agreement with Google, Inc.) were shipped to Kenn Borek’s facility in Calgary, and installed on the MKB Basler in September 2013. After conducting test flights, the equipment was removed, packed, and shipped to Port Hueneme for transport to Antarctica. When the Government Shutdown occurred in October 2013, it was uncertain which missions would be supportable with the reduced resources. We were excited and thankful when the NSF told us that the CReSIS Antarctic missions were allowed to deploy. The Government Shutdown caused a 3-week shift in the mission dates, but the length of survey time at the field camp (4 weeks) remained the same.

The field team departed the United States on November 29, arrived in Christchurch on December 1, and after 2 weather delays, flew to McMurdo on December 5. Beginning on December 11, the team installed the radar systems, antenna systems, and Google camera on the Basler in McMurdo and conducted 3 days of test flights from McMurdo Station, before departing for the field camp on December 18. The field camp was located near Subglacial Lake Whillans (SLW) on the Whillans (B) Ice Stream on the Siple Coast of West Antarctica. The team conducted survey flights for 4 weeks based from the field camp. Figure 1 shows the MKB Basler in flight with CReSIS’ radar antenna systems. The team conducted survey flights on 12 days out of the 16 proposed flight days. They also collected data during the return transit flight from the field camp to McMurdo.

Antarctica, Winter 2013-2014: Airborne Radar Survey Project with Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) (NSF I-185-M)

Photo of ground test of dual-frequency radar installed inside G1X UAS with antennas integrated in wings. The UAS was attached to a sled and towed behind a snowmobile to measure the runway’s ice thickness. In this photo, Carl Leuschen is conducting the radar test and Nicholas Brown is driving the snowmobile. (Photo courtesy of Alec Bowman).

Figure 2

From December 1, 2013 to January 18, 2014, five CReSIS personnel [Rick Hale (KU), Shawn Keshmiri (KU), Alec Bowman (KU), T.J. Stastny (KU), and Nicholas Brown (KU)] participated in an airborne radar survey project (event/project number I-185-M) using an unmanned aerial system over the Siple Coast of Antarctica. The major objectives of the field program were to extensively flight test a small UAS, G1X, equipped with low—frequency radar sounder and to collect radar data to develop the concept 2-D aperture synthesis by flying the UAS along closed spaced lines in the cross-track direction.

The field team departed the United States on December 1, arrived in Christchurch on December 3, and flew to McMurdo on December 5. After receiving the cargo (which required special handling because of the temporary export licenses covering ITAR- controlled items), the team spent several days sorting and repacking the cargo for transport on the LC-130 to the field and participating in required deep field training, before flying to the SLW/CReSIS field camp on the Whillans (B) Ice Stream on December 18. Also at camp were the CReSIS I-189-M Basler and I-188-M surface-based project teams.

Photo of radar ground test setup. See G1X UAS (with radar inside) attached to sled on left, with UAS ground control station in center/right of photograph. (Photo courtesy of Alec Bowman).

Figure 3

The team spent 4 weeks at the SLW/CReSIS field camp, from December 18 to January 13. First, the team conducted ground tests with the UAS/Radar, such as testing communication links, performing UAS ski taxi tests, testing UAS engine performance, and testing radar functionality and performance. The I-189 Basler team members worked with the I-185 UAS team members to ground-test the radar system at the camp. The UAS/Radar was attached to a sled and towed behind a snowmobile to measure the runway’s ice thickness (see Figures 2 and 3). On December 27, flight testing and airborne radar data collection with the G1X UAS began.

Antarctica, Winter 2013-2014: Surface-based Radar and Seismic Survey Project (NSF I- 188-M)

Graphic showing proposed measurement locations. The SLW/CReSIS field camp was located near the previous “Wissard Camp” location. Small red dots represent “super sites”, where there were three landing sites (measurement sites) within a 15 km radius of the red dot location. Siple Dome and Whillans Ice Stream locations were highest priority. Siple Dome was the calibration site because of the known ice thickness, temperature, and impurities. (Graphic provided by Sridhar Anandakrishnan).

Above: Graphic showing proposed measurement locations. The SLW/CReSIS field camp was located near the previous “Wissard Camp” location. Small red dots represent “super sites”, where there were three landing sites (measurement sites) within a 15 km radius of the red dot location. Siple Dome and Whillans Ice Stream locations were highest priority. Siple Dome was the calibration site because of the known ice thickness, temperature, and impurities. (Graphic provided by Sridhar Anandakrishnan).

From November 29, 2013 to January 22-23, 2014, two CReSIS personnel [Sridhar Anandakrishnan (PSU) and Peter Burkett (PSU)] participated in a surface-based radar and seismic survey project (event/project number I-188-M) on the Siple Coast of Antarctica. In September 2013, PSU personnel visited KU to be trained to setup and operate the surface-based Accumulation Radar System. Prior to their visit and in preparation for this field mission, personnel at KU modified the surface-based Accumulation Radar System to fit inside a 27 x 27 x 26 inch pelican case that could be unloaded from a utility Twin Otter, and quickly and easily attached to a Nansen sled.

The field team departed the United States on November 29, arrived in Christchurch on December 1, and after 2 days of weather delays, transited to McMurdo on December 5. After receiving and repacking cargo and participating in training, the field team transited on December 16 to the SLW/CReSIS field camp on the Whillans (B) Ice Stream on the Siple Coast of West Antarctica. Also at camp were the I-189-M Basler and I-185-M UAS CReSIS teams. Every other week over a 5- week period, the field team traveled on a utility Twin Otter to measurement sites on the Ross Ice Shelf and grounding line, and setup the surface-based Accumulation Radar System and seismic equipment to collect data. Figure 51 shows the proposed measurement locations on the Siple Coast.

2012

Meridian
Figure 1: Science flight trajectories for Antarctica 2012.

Operation IceBridge Mission in Antarctica with the University of Kansas and Indiana University. In the fall of 2012, the MCoRDS/I, Snow Radar and Ku-Band Radar were installed on the NASA DC-8 aircraft to measure Antarctic land and sea ice. From Oct. 8 to Nov. 10, 2012 the team conducted 16 airborne radar surveys from the DC-8 over Antarctica while based out of Punta Arenas, Chile.This field season also included the first deployment of the “Forward Observer” data management system, built the Indiana University team. It centralized data storage and facilitated real-time data processing on-board the aircraft. Figure 1 shows the flight lines for the 2012 Antarctica OIB mission.

Operation IceBridge Airborne Radar Surveys with NASA DC-8: From October 9 to November 22, 2011, CReSIS personnel participated in the NASA Operation IceBridge (OIB) mission over Antarctica. The team conducted airborne radar surveys from the NASA DC-8 aircraft over Antarctica while based out of Punta Arenas, Chile. CReSIS radars included the MCoRDS/I depth sounder/imager, Ku-band radar, and Snow radar.

Antarctic Flight Lines
Flight lines flown by Twin Otter in 2011/2012 over Byrd Glacier in Antarctica

Airborne Radar Surveys with NSF Twin Otter: From November 14, 2011 to January 13, 2012, five CReSIS personnel conducted airborne radar surveys of Byrd Glacier in Antarctica using a Twin Otter aircraft (operated by Kenn Borek Air Ltd.) while being based out of McMurdo Station. The purpose of the mission was to simultaneously collect ice thickness and surface elevation data over Byrd Glacier using a suite of radar instruments. Three radars were installed on the Twin Otter aircraft and were used to collect data in Antarctica: MCoRDS/I (Multi-channel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder and Imager) ice-penetrating radar, Accumulation radar, and Ku-band altimeter radar. The team flew four test/calibration test flights, completed 95% of the “primary” survey lines, and 50% of the “bonus” flights. Approximately 20 terabytes of MCoRDS/I data, 2.65 terabytes of Accumulation radar data, and 3.42 terabytes of Ku-band radar data were collected.

NSF Unmanned Aerial System Mission: From December 7 to approximately December 30, 2011, eight CReSIS personnel deployed to McMurdo Station in Antarctica to conduct flight testing using two UAS’s—the Meridian UAS and the smaller-scale Yak-54 UAS—and to conduct tests with the depth sounder radar onboard the Meridian. The objective of this campaign was to increase the reliability and functionality of the aircraft and flight control system through extensive flight testing at Pegasus Airfield, as well as to demonstrate the platform’s science capability through testing of the onboard depth sounder radar. Flight testing was to include both line-of-sight and over-the-horizon tests. The team returned home at the end of December 2011.

Surface-based mission on Byrd Glacier: Because of heavy crevassing found throughout the entire trunk of Byrd Glacier, CReSIS partner Pennsylvania State University had to modify their previously planned surface-based work on Byrd Glacier. Their research was performed in conjunction with CReSIS researcher Dr. Leigh Stearns’ pre-existing NSF project. Stearns's team deployed 11 passive seismometers (see photo), adjacent to GPS stations, along the trunk and over the subglacial lakes on Byrd. These units were deployed from early November 2011 through early February 2012. Stearns's group used helicopter support to deploy and retrieve these units; the units were provided by IRIS/PASSCAL. Personnel at Pennsylvania State University (Anandakrishnan and students) will compile and analyze the seismic data. The purpose of this research was to better constrain properties at the bed of Byrd Glacier, and to assess whether subglacial water was released by the lakes during the time of deployment.

Seismic Station
Seismic station, taken in February 2012 prior to retrieval of unit.

2011

Operation IceBridge Airborne Radar Surveys with NASA DC-8: CReSIS personnel participated in NASA’s Operation IceBridge (OIB) mission to conduct science flights using NASA’s DC-8 aircraft over Antarctica in October and November 2010. Personnel were based out of Punta Arenas, Chile. Three CReSIS radars were installed on the NASA DC-8: MCoRDS, the Snow radar (to estimate snow thickness over sea ice), and the Ku-band altimeter radar (for high-precision surface elevation measurements). The team collected more than 60 terabytes of data over parts of Antarctic glacial and sea ice during October-November 2010.

2010

Operation IceBridge: CReSIS joined NASA personell in Puntas Arenas, Chile, from Oct 16 to Nov 18, 2009 for NASA’s Operation IceBridge project. A 157-foot DC-8 aircraft served as a flying laboratory during daily 12-hour round trips from Chile to Antarctica. The flights surveyed areas usually studied by the now-defunct ICESat-I satelliete. IceBridge intends to monitor these areas until ICESat-II launches in 2015. The deployment garnered high-precisions measurements of glacial ice surface elevation, thickness, and snow cover. It also measured the freeboard and snow thickness of sea ice in the Weddell Sea, Ross Sea, and Pine Island Bay.

The CReSIS field team consisted of Dr. Chris Allen, Lei Shei, Victor Jara-Olivares, William Blake, and Ben Panzer of KU, and Keith Lehigh from Indiana University. Dr. Richard Hale, Emily Arnold, John Hunter, Jared Anderson, Conner McMullen, Kevin Shipley, Jim Rood, and Mike Brenneson from KU’s Aerospace Engineering department designed the fairing structures to hold the antennas and helped with radar installation in California before deployment. Jill Hummels from the KU School of Engineering joined the team in Puntas Arenas to document their activities.

CReSIS used a new version of depth-sounding radar, called the Multi-Channel Coherent Depth Sounder (MCoRDS). With 8 channels and 5 antennas, it provided real-time mapping of land-based glacial bedrock topography. Also operated was a KU Ultra-Wide Band Snow Radar to measure snow thickness on top of sea ice. A KU-band Altimeter helped calculate ground distance from the aircraft. Overall, 21 flights were accomplished above the projected 17 for a total of 100,000 flight miles.

2009

Surface-Based Seismic/Radar Surveys: A Thwaites-focused, nine-person team, led by Dr. Sridhar Anandakrishnan (PSU), deployed the second week of November 2008 to accomplish reflection seismic experiments aimed at a better understanding of the base of this glacier. A full geophysical characterization, including sediment properties and thickness, water layer thickness, and bed roughness were intended outcomes to aid in the numerical modeling. This team also deployed a surface-based radar to complement the seismic work, supported by a KU graduate student, Mr. Anthony Hoch, and using PolarGRID equipment for data storage and backup, communications, and data processing.

During the effort, the seismic team completed surveys on two lines of 60 kilometers (near UP Seismic Camp) and 5 kilometers (near WAIS), requiring a total of 262 holes and 760 shots. Radar data collected included 452 line-kilometers around the UP Seismic Camp on Thwaites, approximately 200 line-kilometers of data from the traverse back to the WAIS Divide Camp from the field site, and another 24 line-kilometers on one line over the ice divide near WAIS Divide Camp.

Gambit LogoGAMBIT: On November 29, Dr. David Braaten deployed from Kansas to join Mr. Chris McMinn (KU) and the Lamont-Doherty-led GAMBIT team in Antarctica to support the aerial radar survey. Survey flights were accomplished between December 22 and January 17, covering roughly 50,000 line-kilometers and generating ~ 10 Tb of raw data.

2008

A Penn State-led seismics team deployed to Antarctica in late November. Five PSU researchers began working out of WAIS Divide and then transitioned to work in the vicinity of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica. The field team included middle school science teacher, Brandon Gillette, from Olathe, Kansas, who remained in the field for approximately six weeks during December 2007 and January 2008. Mr. Gillette’s participation was coordinated by another NSF-IPY education project, PolarTREC.

 

Gambit Logo
PSU-led team in Antarctica 2007/2008.

Approximately 20 km of high resolution seismic profiles were acquired, primarily targeting the grounding line and a prominent subglacial sill. Seismic reflection, refraction, and amplitude-vs.-offset geometries were employed. Eighteen Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers were deployed and operated continuously during the season in order to study the glacier's flow dynamics. Radio-echo-sounding techniques were also used to study englacial structure and bed properties.

 

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