IceTrek Expedition Preparation: 28 August - 25 January

Please credit the National Snow and Ice Data Center for image or content use.

18 January

Ted Scambos and Rob Bauer attended training with University NAVSTAR Consortium (UNAVCO). The instructor, Field Engineer Thomas Nylen (pictured below), reviewed precision Global Positioning System (GPS) processing and provided the team with some hardware to bring on their expedition.

UNAVCO trainingTed Scambos (left) receives training from UNAVCO.


10 January

The team is monitoring the iceberg carefully. It appears to be drifting rapidly North, and could be out of reach by the time the team arrives and all the details are completed. Although the team is also monitoring other icebergs as potential research sites, the assumption is that the group will use Iceberg A22a.

The team is working to get satellite maps of the designated iceberg so that we can determine a landing site. The team prefers a landing site on thick ice, away from rifts, or fissures in the ice, and that is in a position to monitor an ice front in the distance. A satellite image would also help the team designate way points for the radar profiling traverse, which is a bit difficult because the iceberg is a moving target and not in a fixed position. The most recent suggestion is to grid the iceberg itself and designate way points in relation to the landing site.

The U.S. team has received word that Juan Carlos Quinteros, of Argentina, is the mechanical engineer. He will help with snowmobiles and other equipment.

30 December

T-minus 26 days and counting.

U.S. team members Ted Scambos, Jonathan Thom, and Ted's graduate student, Atsu Muto, are completing the final construction and calibration on the thermistor string. This tool is designed to provide temperatures from a borehole that will be drilled at the iceberg science site. We have compiled and sent the final itemized cargo list to the support station in Punta Arenas, Chile.

IceTrek team members are in final preparations for their departure.

Equipment in caseThis is one of several well-equipped tool boxes that will accompany the U.S. team to Argentina. The tools will be crucial to fast and smooth equipment deployment once the team is on the ice.

Safety equipment on tableSafety will be the first concern for everyone on the team. This climbing equipment will help keep the team safe in the potentially dangerous and unpredictable conditions on the iceberg.


20 December

The team has directed a flurry of activity regarding logistics for getting to our moving target.

The iceberg has moved rapidly, and now floats only ~120km from Marambio, in almost perfect position. However, there are still some uncertainties about how the group from Argentina will put the team on the berg. We discussed several approaches in rapid succession and concluded that the IceTrek team will have to be ready to go by any of several routes (icebreaker and helicopter, Twin Otter, or small helicopter) and at almost any time after arriving in Marambio.

12 December

At the American Geophysical Union, U.S. Principal Investigator Ted Scambos gave a presentation on iceberg drift and break-up, and an overview of the IceTrek plan. Instrumentation is set, and we are nearing completion of the operating software. The thermistor string calibration has begun at Dr. Gary Clow's lab at the U.S. Geological Survey.

31 October

IceTrek team members Jonathan Thom and Ronald Ross are currently at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. They are testing components of the Automated Meteorological-Ice-Geophysical Observing Station (AMIGO); they report that all is going smoothly.

U.S. team members Ted Scambos and Rob Bauer, in Boulder, Colorado, have been modifying the weather station tower, preparing team equipment for shipping to Punta Arenas, Chile, and undergoing physical fitness examinations. Ted continues to monitor iceberg positions and confer with Pedro Skvarca in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to determine the best possible iceberg for the team's expedition.

Rob and Ted, along with John Maurer and Terry Haran (members of previous Greenland and Antarctic science teams), conducted a field test of the IceTrek radar system. The group used the radar system to assist Dr. Tingjun Zhang with high-altitude permafrost studies at the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station on Niwot Ridge above Boulder, Colorado.

Tower in crateThe weather tower, crated and ready for deployment, is more than 10 feet long.

Ted and Atsu with towerTed Scambos (right) and graduate student Atsu Muto (left), begin erecting the weather tower in the parking lot of NSIDC.

Tower tiltedThe group has assembled the weather tower and attempts to stand it up.

Tower uprightThe tower is up!


21 September

During the week of September 12, U.S. team member Rob Bauer traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to attend an international meeting concerning Antarctic Science issues. The Dirección Nacional del Antártico of the Instituto Antártico Argentino held the meeting at the Palacio San Martín. While there, Rob met with IceTrek team member Dr. Pedro Skvarca, and with Instituto Antártico Argentino Director, Dr. Sergio Marenssi. Rob joined Capitán de Fragata (ship commandant) Guillermo Palet for a tour of the Argentine Icebreaker A.R.A. Almirante Irizar and its facilities.

U.S. members Jonathan Thom and Ronald Ross continued to develop instrumentation for the Automatic Weather Station (AWS) and observation systems. Jonathan and Ronald will soon deploy to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, to work with Dr. Doug MacAyeal of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago. While in the McMurdo area, they will perform field testing on a variety of instruments and tower components which will be used during IceTrek.

Meanwhile, U.S. Team Leader Dr. Ted Scambos is currently refining the AWS station design and working with his graduate student, Atsu Muto, to design the thermistor instrumentation. Later this week, Rob and Ted will field test the radar system at the Niwot Ridge Research Station, high above Boulder, Colorado.

28 August

The U.S. members of the IceTrek Team held our first meeting; researchers who are conducting similar work in other parts of Antarctica also participated. We discussed the instruments that the IceTrek Team plans to set up on the iceberg, as well as the best way to design them. The team is faced with the issue of erecting a ~20-foot tower on the iceberg, a tower that must withstand wind, snow, and a lot of melting. However, the tower pieces must also be small and light so that a helicopter can transport them. As currently planned, the instruments deployed on the iceberg will include a weather station, a snow temperature profiler, two cameras, and an ice-thickness radio-echo sounder. Four solar panels and four special solar-rated sealed batteries will provide power.

Up next, we'll be developing our shopping list, including items like candy bars and boots.