ARIANNA proposes to use radio waves to capture the elusive
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once wrote
that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single
For a team of physicists hoping to learn more about the
high-energy universe, the journey toward building an array
of 10,000 instruments for just that purpose began this
past season with a single prototype deployed on a 600-meter-thick
Were trying to find the sources of ultra-high-energy
cosmic rays in the universe, explained Spencer Klein
, leader of the three-person field team that set up the
detector in an area called Moores Bay, more than
100 kilometers from McMurdo Station . Those galactic cosmic
rays rays being something of a misnomer for the
highly charged particles pack the energy of a well-hit
tennis ball in just one particle as it hits the Earths
upper atmosphere and bursts into a trillion smaller bits.
much bugs Belgica
Antarctic insect focus of new NSF-funded project
Richard Lee stretches his long frame onto the
cold, sharp rocks that turn every step on Torgersen Island
into a potential ankle-twisting misadventure. His head
tilts close to the ground, as if he is about to settle
down for a nap, using the dried mat of Prasiola crispa
as a pillow. Instead, he carefully flips over the Antarctic
green algae to reveal a squirming mass of what appear
to be black ants.
Theyre insects all right, but no species of ant
lives this far south, here on one of the many granite
and basalt islets that mark the southern extreme of the
Palmer Archipelago off the west coast of the Antarctic
Peninsula. These are adult Belgica antarctica, a flightless
midge endemic to the continent. The wingless flies are
ubiquitous on the islands near Palmer Station , the small
U.S. Antarctic Program research base, on Anvers Island.
Birds of a Feather
Researcher finds special bond and discoveries
among giant petrels
Donna Patterson-Fraser moves swiftly across
the rocks on Humble Island, deftly leaping from stone
to stone to avoid damaging the fragile moss that forms
a threadbare carpet across the island and between the
giant petrel nests along her route.
She and fellow field team member Kirstie Yeager also
must weave around the small colonies of Adélie
penguins packed into irregular circles where the
ground is stained light pink with guano and the
muddy wallows created by elephant seals. To call their
combined smell pungent falls far short of
the reality. Its as if everything at a seafood market
has turned strongly rancid.
On the roof of the Space Science and Engineering
Center (SSEC) , festooned with antenna that grab data
from orbiting satellites in space, Matthew Lazzara gestures
to the various dishes, describing the unique history of
each one, as if recounting royal lineage.
Two on top of the penthouse date back to the 1970s,
he explains. One points to a NOAA satellite that provides
imagery over the Antarctic Peninsula. Others receive information
from a pair of important Earth-observing satellites launched
by NASA, Terra and Aqua .
A lot of different satellite observations are made
available here, which allows us to do some of the work
we do, Lazzara explains before ducking back inside
the penthouse of the 15-story building as an October rain
drizzle on the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison)
campus turns heavy.
It was never supposed to hang around this long.
10 years, maybe 15 at most.
Perhaps thats why the South Pole Dome a modestly
sized structure spanning 164 feet and topping out at about
52 feet high has loomed so large in the lore and
legacy of polar history.
The final chapter in that story will be completed 35 years
after the U.S. Antarctic Programs most iconic research
station was officially dedicated in January 1975. The
dome, the second research station built at the geographic
South Pole, is coming down.
The size of the annual ozone hole over Antarctica
peaked in late September at 23.8 million square miles,
slightly smaller than the North American continent, according
to a news release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) in November.
That ranks as the 10th largest since satellite measurements
began in 1979. Ozone over South Pole Station also reached
its thinnest vertical point of the year on Sept. 26, NOAA
Scientists who normally spend much of the austral
summer in the McMurdo Dry Valleys conducting long-term
studies on that polar desert ecosystem are taking their
research on the road.
Byron Adams , an associate professor of biology at Brigham
Young University , will lead a small team of colleagues
on a series of short excursions to the Beardmore Glacier
in the Transantarctic Mountains this year. The project
is something of a reconnaissance mission to determine
if viable communities of microorganisms inhabit the exposed
soils in a high and dry area dominated by ice.
Were really interested about the biodiversity
of these organisms that are there, and were particularly
interested in their evolutionary history as well,
explained Adams, a member of the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long
Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, a multidisciplinary
study of the lakes and soils in Antarcticas largest
Whiskey to be Dug Up
Soon to be unearthed (de-iced?), are two cases
of whiskey that were left behind after a hasty departure
from Cape Royds during Shackleton's 1908-09 expedition.
The cases were found about 3 years ago lodged under the
hut and are expected to be cut from the ice this summer
by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage conservation team.
Ernest Shackleton placed perhaps the most famous
job wanted ad in history for his 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic
Expedition, which later earned him so much acclaim for
the hardships encountered and overcome.
The advert read: Men wanted for hazardous journey.
Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness.
Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event
More than 50 years later, when the Antarctic Age of Exploration
slipped into the Age of Scientific Discovery, the job
ads for forklift drivers or even administrative clerks
may not have dripped with such machismo. But there was
no less swagger to the attitude that still dominated on
the continent when the first female scientists arrived
Antarctica once enjoyed summer-time temperatures
that averaged 10 degrees Celsius a climate more
suited for a warm fleece than a thick parka about
15.7 million years ago.
Thats the conclusion scientists drew from the discovery
of a thick layer of fossils from marine algae and the
pollen of woody plants in a sediment core drilled into
the seafloor of McMurdo Sound in 2007.
The microscopic fossils were found in unusual abundance
in a two-meter-thick layer from the 2007 core of seafloor
sediments that measured more than 1,100 meters long.
How do you top what many have called the most
popular natural history television program in history?
Set the sequel at the literal ends of the Earth
the Antarctic and Arctic.
BBC and the Discovery Channel have teamed once again on
a new documentary series, following closely on the heels
of Planet Earth, an 11-episode extravaganza
shot almost entirely in high-definition (HD) video. Filming
on Frozen Planet began last year, and a team
of filmmakers will head to McMurdo Station and beyond
this summer field season with the support of the National
Science Foundation (NSF) .
The BBC natural history team chose the polar regions because
the original Planet Earth episode called Ice
Worlds seemed to possess the most potential for
a series of its own, according to Chadden Hunter , a director
who has worked on both wildlife series and has been coordinating
the field plan on the Ice.
The oldest ice core retrieved from Antarctica
and the world travels back about 850,000
years in time, revealing eight previous ice ages. It took
the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA)
more than five field seasons to drill down 3,270 meters
into the East Antarctic ice sheet.
Andrei Kurbatov and his colleagues believe that they can
retrieve a nearly limitless supply of ice for climate
research that dates back at least 2.5 million years
located right at the surface and retrievable in a single
The proverbial gold mine of old ice is located in a region
called the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area, only about an hours
plane ride away from McMurdo Station , the hub of the
U.S. Antarctic Program .
Scientists Douglas Wilson and Bruce Luyendyk havent
found the lost continent of Atlantis, but their discovery
that far more of West Antarctica may have existed above
sea level millions of years ago could help solve one of
the great mysteries in the climate history of the continent.
In a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters,
a journal of the American Geophysical Union, the University
of California Santa Barbara researchers suggest that at
least twice as much land existed in West Antarctica than
today, increasing the total landmass of Antarctica by
10 to 20 percent.
Before the high-tech days of weather satellites
and the Global Positioning System (GPS), aircraft flying
between Christchurch, New Zealand, and McMurdo Station
would depend on weather reports and navigational fixes
from a weather picket ship deployed near 160° east
and 60° south. Both the U.S. Navy and New Zealand
(NZ) Navy provided ships for this purpose.
During the years 1957-1968, the U.S. Navy deployed Destroyer
Escort (DE) class ships for this duty, while the NZ Navy
provided Loch class antisubmarine frigates for the four
years it participated. The U.S. ships were World War II
vintage DEs, later replaced by DE Radar (DER) class ships.
The DERs were also World War II (Edsall class) DEs that
were converted for radar duty in the 1950s. Built from
1943 until the end of the war for the princely sum of
about $6 million each, the DERs were never intended to
be in service into the 1970s.
Its safe to say many visitors and temporary
residents at the South Pole Station have sentimental feelings
about the Dome that served as the second U.S. research
station at 90 degrees south for more than 30 years.
Navy Seabees painstakingly assembled the geodesic structure
in the 1970s after it arrived in crates as a kit
of precut beams and aluminum pieces. For 30 years, a tiny
village of moveable buildings sat under its protection,
a vast umbrella measuring 164 feet wide and 52 feet high.
An extinct southern elephant seal colony that
once existed in huge numbers along sandy and rocky beaches
in Antarctica has provided new insight into how quickly
a species can respond to the emergence of a new habitat
as climate changes and just as quickly disappear.
Thats one of the findings in a paper published in
the journal PLoS Genetics in July by scientists who studied
DNA sequences from the organic remains of seals found
along a nearly 300-kilometer stretch of coastline in Victoria
Land, just north of the U.S. Antarctic Programs
McMurdo Station .
McMurdo to South Pole. South Pole to AGAP South.
Byrd Surface Camp to Pine Island Glacier. WAIS Divide
field camp to McMurdo. McMurdo to Willams Ice Stream.
The thousand-mile haul between the U.S. Antarctic Program
(USAP) research stations at McMurdo and South Pole is
already a reality. The traverse delivered nearly a million
pounds of fuel, cargo and equipment to South Pole in 2008-09
the culmination of nearly a decade of work to establish
a safe route across a Texas-sized ice shelf and up a glacier
that cuts through the Transantarctic Mountains.
An Adélie penguin colony can be a cacophonous
place, with hundreds of birds braying in an unlikely chorus.
That was one of the sounds that Cheryl Leonard wanted
to capture, but it wasnt the most interesting one
that she discovered.
Instead, she literally found music at her feet. Or, more
accurately, at the feet of the Adélies. The dense
stones on Torgersen Island off the Antarctic Peninsula
produced melodious sounds like coins falling together
in a pile when the penguins walked across them.
Little melodies would come out from their feet as
they walked on the stones, kicked the stones, jostled
the stones, says Leonard, a San Francisco-based
composer and musician who spent about a month at Palmer
Station this past season on an Antarctic Artists and Writers
Program grant from the National Science Foundation.
Shortest day of the year a reason to celebrate
We are half-way through our long winter.
The sun is circling at its lowest; each day will bring
it nearer our horizon. The night is at its blackest; each
day will lengthen the pale noon twilight. Until now, the
black shadow has been descending on us; after this, day
by day, it will rise until the great orb looms above our
northern horizon to guide our footsteps over the great
trackless wastes of snow. If the light-hearted scenes
of to-day can end the first period of our captivity, what
room for doubt is there that we shall triumphantly weather
the whole term with the same general happiness and contentment?
Capt. Robert Falcon Scott
The words written by Capt. Scott in 1905 describe the
sentiment of the men on Scotts exploration party
as they celebrated the midwinter solstice. This same attitude
prevails today for all those who spend the winter season
Americans honored for role in New Zealand
air tragedy 30 years ago
Dave Bresnahan was the National Science Foundation
(NSF) representative at McMurdo Station on Nov. 28, 1979
when the unthinkable happened.
Air New Zealand Flight 901, an Antarctic sightseeing plane
out of Auckland, had lost radio contact at about 1 p.m.
Twelve hours later, not long after midnight on Nov. 29,
a U.S. Navy plane spotted debris on the lower slopes of
Mount Erebus, an active volcano on Ross Island.
Flight 901 had crashed into the side of the volcano and
disintegrated. All 257 passengers and crew died, making
it the worst national disaster in New Zealand history.
Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald
We at the National Science Foundation
and U.S. Antarctic Program are saddened to hear the news
of the death of Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald on Tuesday,
June 23, 2009.
During her time as the physician at NSF's Amundsen-Scott
South Pole Station, Dr. FitzGerald was a dedicated member
of the station team, and we will always be appreciative
of her service to the US Antarctic Program and the scientific
mission that continues there.
Dr. FitzGerald's cancer diagnosis while at the station
and her subsequent evacuation in October of 1999 made
her a public figure through circumstance and not through
choice, yet she was able to inspire and educate others
diagnosed with the disease and continue practicing medicine.
We extend our sympathies to her family, colleagues and
community as they mourn her loss.
Snow melter shoveling is one of the exciting
experiences you get at only small inland stations, so
consider yourself one of a select group. Your
Stay at Byrd Station 1970-71
That little excerpt from the 10-page New Byrd Station
guide from more than 35 years ago is a light-hearted reminder
that life in Antarcticas vast backyard is far from
the comforts of home or even the relative luxury
of McMurdo Station .
At 80° south latitude and 119° west longitude,
its not a spot on the world map suitable for a family
vacation. The Navy personnel charged with establishing
the first Byrd Station during 1956-57 for the International
Geophysical Year (IGY) at first balked at the idea of
heading some 1,000 kilometers by tractor train across
the unknown, crevasse-ridden ice of West Antarctica. But
they drove the distance twice in one summer
and built one of the first research stations deep into
the interior of the continent.
Discovery of avian fossils suggests Antarctica may
have been origin of modern species
Julia Clarke has good reason to believe fossils collected
from islands along the Antarctic Peninsula could yield
new insights into the evolutionary history of modern birds.
After all, about five years ago, she and her U.S.
and Argentine colleagues found proof from a rock specimen,
which contained avian vertebrae and pelvic bones among
other bits of skeleton, that close relatives of at least
one order of modern birds co-existed with dinosaurs.
in the Sound
Robot offers new views of marine environment around McMurdo
It seemed unlikely too many marine organisms
could make a living under the dark shadow of an ice shelf,
with the ice some 200 meters thick in spots.
Why? There are not a lot of places for light to penetrate
through the ice, which means not a whole lot of photosynthesis,
the driving force behind the food chain, is occurring.
Also, the front of the McMurdo Ice Shelf, a distinct part
of the Ross Ice Shelf , is about 80 kilometers away and
recorded current speeds are less than 2 centimeters per
second, so its unlikely currents are transporting
food for critters to nosh.
A trio of storms in April blanketed McMurdo
Station in Antarctica, breaking a 41-year record for snowfall
and coming close to challenging a world record for wind
By May 1, some snow plowing was still ongoing nearly three
weeks after the series of snow storms began. More than
6 feet of snow fell between April 11 and April 25.
The first storm began the evening of April 11 and dumped
17.5 inches over four days, including 14 inches in just
24 hours, a new record. The previous record had been 10
inches over a 24-hour period in April 1968, according
to Ed Saul, a weather observer working at McMurdo for
Overland exploration of East Antarctica collects data
for last thousand years of climate
The 12 scientists and support staff
who made a slow crawl across a vast, blank stretch of
East Antarctica this past austral summer for three months
to study how regional climate variability relates to global
climate change expected to encounter brutally cold storms
and other challenges on the high polar plateau.
They didnt expect to come across other travelers
in the relatively unexplored area known as Queen Maud
Land. But they did three times in one day.
We were astonished because we were supposed to
be all alone, said Ted Scambos , a member of the
Norwegian-U.S. science team that crossed a large slice
of the Antarctic continent using tracked vehicles pulling
sleds. I dont know where you can go in order
to be on the edge of the Earth anymore.
Scientists, diplomats and others involved in
supporting research in Earths polar regions converged
in Baltimore, Md., in April for the 32nd Antarctic Treaty
Consultative Meeting to discuss topics ranging from climate
change to tourism.
The first such meeting hosted in the United States since
1979, the event marked the 50th anniversary of the signing
of the historic international treaty that preserved the
continent for peaceful, scientific pursuits.
Antarctic Microbes Live Life on a Previously Unsuspected
That descendents of marine creatures appear to have thrived
in cold, darkness and lack of air for a million years
has implications for the search for life elsewhere in
the solar system.
An unmapped reservoir of briny liquid chemically similar
to sea water, but buried under an inland Antarctic glacier,
appears to support unusual microbial life in a place where
cold, darkness and lack of oxygen would previously have
led scientists to believe nothing could survive, according
to newly published research.
After two years analyzing data from the Balloon-borne
Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (BLAST) project,
an international group of astronomers and astrophysicists
from the United States, Canada and the U.K. reported in
the journal Nature this month that half of the starlight
of the universe comes from young, star-forming galaxies
several billion light years away.
The International Polar Year (IPY) officially
came to an end in March. But the legacy of the two-year
campaign to learn more about the worlds polar regions
will likely last far into the future.
IPY scientists accomplished a dizzying amount of work
in the Antarctic and Arctic from mapping rugged
mountain ranges buried hundreds of meters below the ice
cap to making underwater observations below an ice shelf.
They crisscrossed Antarctica on ski-equipped airplanes
and on tracked vehicles. Ice-strengthened ships carried
them to little-visited corners of the Southern Ocean,
discovering new species in the frigid waters.
Natural releases of carbon dioxide from the
Southern Ocean due to shifting wind patterns could have
amplified global warming at the end of the last ice age
and could be repeated as manmade warming proceeds,
a new paper in the journal Science suggests.
Many scientists think a change in Earths orbit triggered
the end of the last ice age and caused the northern part
of the planet to warm. This partial climate shift was
accompanied by rising levels of the greenhouse gas carbon
dioxide (CO2), ice core records show, which could have
intensified the warming around the globe.
Just what does a humpback whale in the Southern
Ocean do all day?
Well, eat, thats for certain. A lot. But how much
of the shrimplike krill can one of these baleen whales
consume in the frigid waters that surround Antarctica
before migrating north for the other half of the year?
Its a question that a team of scientists, led by
Douglas Nowacek from Duke University , will address with
some high-tech tagging instruments and steady hands
and sharp eyes during a science cruise around the
Antarctic Peninsula beginning in late April.
Submarine to Better Understand the Mechanics of Antarctic
A team of British and American scientists
has successfully deployed an autonomous robot submarine
on six missions beneath an Antarctic ice shelf using sonar
scanners to map the seabed and the underside of the ice
as it juts out over the sea.
The research is part of a larger, National Science Foundation-funded
project to study the dynamic Pine Island Glacier and to
understand how increasing ocean temperatures triggered
by a warming climate may affect the melting of the West
Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and global sea-level rise.
A U.S.-led international team of scientists has created
the first detailed picture of a rugged mountain range
buried under more than 4 kilometers of ice in East Antarctica.
The researchers, based in two field camps on the high-altitude
polar plateau, used twin-engine light aircraft to conduct
an aerogeophysical survey of roughly 2 million square
kilometers of the ice sheet, the equivalent of two trips
around the globe.
In 1955, the U.S. Navy sent hundreds of Seabees,
the Navys construction battalion, to Antarctica
to build seven research stations for the impending International
Geophysical Year (IGY) . Over the course of the next two
years, these men braved primitive conditions to do what
no one had ever done before build functioning facilities
with electricity, running water and science labs in locales
where the explorers before them had struggled to survive.
Ham radio was the only means of talking to loved ones
back home in the era preceding satellite-enabled telephony.
For the men who arrived at what is now McMurdo Station
in December 1955, and who did not depart until a year
or two later, hearing a wifes voice or sons
laughter was an important morale booster.
Climbing a mountain, rappelling down a crevasse,
and preserving artifacts from two of the most famous explorers
in human history, is not how I would typically describe
my summer, but this is exactly what I did during my seven-month
journey in Antarctica.
Contracted by the Antarctic Heritage Trust , a non-profit
organization based in New Zealand, I worked through the
harsh winter months at Scott Base conserving objects from
Capt. Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackletons
expedition bases from 1901 to 1913.
If the global climate change story has a lead
protagonist south of the Equator, its West Antarctica,
a marine-based ice sheet discharging ice into the ocean
about as fast as Greenland is in the Arctic.
Scientists generally consider East Antarctica, a much
larger and thicker ice sheet, still a minor character
in the worldwide warming scenario. But there are signs
that even this behemoth may be responding to changing
climate and parts of the ice sheet may be more
sensitive than first believed.
South Pole Weather Summary
For you weather buffs out there...this
may be of interest...montly detail of recorded temperatures,
winds and any records broken for the month.
A team of scientists working around Byrd Glacier
in Antarctica this season may shake up scientific orthodoxy
about the formation of the continents tallest and
longest mountain range.
The researchers, led by Audrey Huerta , an assistant professor
at Central Washington Universitys Department of
Geological Sciences , believe the Transantarctic Mountains
are the remnant of an ancient plateau.
The Shadow Knows
The story goes something like this: Last year, Haste encouraged
two of her students, Samir Farmer and Shelby Cluff, to
do a science fair project that would measure the shadow
cast by a stick as the seasons waxed and waned. The questions
the students wanted to answer: Does the shadow really
grow shorter in the summer and longer in the winter?
To help answer the former, they enlisted the help of U.S.
Antarctic Program personnel at Palmer and South Pole stations.
Team McChord Airmen assigned to the Expeditionary
Airlift Squadron (EAS) in support of Operation Deep Freeze
(ODF) has completed four operational C-17 Globemaster
III airdrops to the Antarctic Gamburtsev Mountain Province
since last month.
Thirty bundles of fuel and other supplies were first delivered
to a scientific camp Nov. 26 in the province, one of the
most remote locations on Earth.
on a Diet
Penguins' primary prey reveals drastic changes
Theres an old saying: You are what you eat. But
the krill-based diet of penguins breeding and living on
King George Island off the northern end of the Antarctic
Peninsula first tipped scientists off that food could
provide an altogether different insight.
It was the penguins that actually keyed us into
to the global change scenario that has become the leading
hypothesis about climate change in the peninsula region,
explained Wayne Trivelpiece.
with the Flow
Researchers brave Drake Passage to map world's largest
Most people who cross Drake Passage by ship are eager
for the two-day journey to be over as quickly as possible.
The ocean passage splitting the tips of South America
and the Antarctic Peninsula is infamously rough, turning
even hardened seafarers green around the gills.
But a team of oceanographers will spend more than three
weeks in the Drake in November and December to learn more
about the worlds largest ocean current, the Antarctic
Circumpolar Current (ACC) . Drake Passage, the chokepoint
where the current narrows, is the ideal place to study
the ACC, according to Teresa Chereskin a principal investigator
for the project and chief scientist for the cruise aboard
the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer.
These days the South Pole is home to a new U.S. research
station officially called Amundsen-Scott South
Pole Station the third to occupy the spot since
1957. More than 250 people labor there each austral summer,
supporting and conducting a dizzying array of scientific
research, much of it devoted to astrophysics and unraveling
the mysteries of the universe thanks to an environment
conducive to such experiments.
But scientists arent the only ones attracted to
the Pole. A handful of tourists venture south each year,
and the number, while modest, has quadrupled in the last
five years. The number has climbed steadily from 40 during
the 2003-04 season to 164 (which includes repeated visits
by pilots) last year, according to statistics kept by
South Pole Station Support Supervisor Beth Watson.
A complicated international air operation coordinated
by the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) , which is managed
by the National Science Foundation (NSF) , has successfully
evacuated a badly injured employee of the Australian Antarctic
Division (AAD) from Antarctica to a hospital in Hobart,
The patient suffered multiple fractures during an all-terrain
vehicle accident , while on a field trip at Trajer Ridge,
around 25 kilometers from Davis Station, where he had
spent almost the past 12 months as the station's chef.
The bottom of McMurdo Sound is teeming with
life from brittle stars to scallops to wildly diverse
single-celled critters called foraminifera, many of which
build hard body parts or shells out of calcium carbonate.
Thats the story today. But what happened in the
ocean millions of years ago? Thats a hard question
to answer. For some reason, there are few signs of these
critters in the fossil records that geologists and other
scientists study in sediment cores taken from below the
Its almost like a disconnect from the life
of today with the life of the past, observed Molly
Miller, a geology professor in the Department of Earth
and Environmental Sciences at Vanderbilt University and
one of the projects principal investigators for
the National Science Foundation -funded study.
loss of Martin Pomerantz
Martin A. Pomerantz (December 17, 1916 - October
25, 2008) was an American physicist who served as
Director of the Bartol Research Institute and who had
been a leader in developing Antarctic astronomy.When the
astronomical observatory at the United States Amundsen-Scott
South Pole Station was opened in 1995, it was named the
Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO) in his honor. Pomerantz
published his scientific autobiography, Astronomy on
Ice, in 2004
International AGAP Team Poised to Probe One of Antarctica's
Last Unexplored Places
A U.S.-led, multinational team of scientists
from six nations will pierce the mysteries of one of the
globe's last major unexplored places this month. Using
sophisticated airborne radar and other Information Age
tools and techniques, the scientists will virtually "peel
away" more than four kilometers (2.5 miles) of ice
covering an Antarctic mountain range that rivals the Alps
in elevation, and which current scientific knowledge suggests
shouldn't be there at all.
Konrad Steffen is one of the worlds leading
experts on climate change in Greenland, having traveled
to the ice-covered island every year since 1990. He oversees
a network of 22 weather stations that collect data about
the ice sheet, and returns with his graduate students
each year to the same field camp north of the Arctic Circle
to study how the ice sheet and its glaciers are responding
to a warming climate.