Antarctica 2009-2010: Constraining the Mass-Balance Deficit of the Amundsen Coast's glaciers
This year was the first of two field seasons of a National Science Foundation funded project aimed at determining the accumulation (snowfall) rate over the catchments feeding the rapidly changing Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers. These data are important for determining the mass balance of the region, which is the difference between ice gained by snowfall and ice lost due to iceberg calving and melting. During this first year, we flew the University of Kansas Airborne accumulation radar on 8 flights to map layers within the firn, which is the snow that compacts over the top 200-300 feet of the ice sheet to eventually become solid ice.
Each mapped layer is an isochrone, meaning that it formed at the same time over a large area. In the second season, we will drill ice cores to determine the year when each mapped layer formed. Then by knowing from the radar how deep the layer is and from the ice cores how many years of snowfall it took to bury the layer, we can determine the accumulation rate along the radar profile. In addition to the radar work, we dug several snow pits and drilled shallow cores to investigate the density and firn chemistry. We also took several photos during a survey flight over Pine Island Glacier
Galley Tent, Byrd Surface Camp, West Antarctica
Several science groups operated from Byrd Surface camp during the 2009/10 field season. The galley was housed in this long rack tent, which served a peak population of nearly 60 scientists and camp staff.