Terry Haran is still in Boulder, Colorado. He’ll be departing on Christmas Eve for Punta Arenas (shortly after Ted returns home for a short holiday visit) to participate in the second leg of the trip.
The team is currently near the summit divide of the Bruce Plateau, conducting an Ice Penetrating Radar (IPR) survey. The goal of the survey is to help determine the optimum location for retrieving an ice core. Ellen Moseley-Thompson and a team from the Byrd Polar Research Center (BPRC) plan to drill the core in January and February 2011. Their team will deploy to the to the same location as soon as the IPR team is finished.
The purpose of the ice core is to characterize the paleoclimatology of the LARISSA study area going back in time as far as possible, hopefully as much as 10,000 years or so. The ideal location would have a depth to bedrock of about 500 meters (about the maximum depth that the BPRC team will be able to drill in the time alloted to them), and would have a relatively smooth bedrock surface.
Ted’s team also hopes the IPR survey can characterize the inter-annual layering found in the upper 100 to 200 meters of the much younger snow cover known as “firn” that is in the process of compacting to eventually become ice. The ideal layering found at the ice core site would be horizontal and uniform with little evidence of firn motion downhill from the summit ridge.
Over the weekend, we got a few updates from the field. I spoke to Ted on the phone, and he said they had surveyed about 60 kilometers with the 5 MHz (deep) radar and were getting good data with it. They think they’ve accomplished all they need to with this radar.
In the next few days before the team return to Rothera Station, they were hoping to resurvey some lines with the 25 MHz (medium depth) radar and to obtain some higher precision differential GPS data for some survey markers than they had geolocated with their hand-held GPS. However, a powerful storm was on its way, so they decided to spend Sunday preparing for the storm and staying in their tents analyzing the 5 MHz data they have collected.
The latest update we received, from the LARISSA operations team, informed us that the team is ready for pickup. However, because of bad weather that’s expected to stick around for the next couple days, they might not be able to get a plane in for a few more days.
The MODIS images below show the location of the team on the Antarctic Peninsula