Over the coming weeks Ms. Niccoli's first graders and Mr. Brad's preschoolers will be joining us on our science expedition in Antarctica. While we (a science team from various parts of the world) work in sub-freezing conditions and sleep on ice for several weeks on end, the students will be enjoying the adventure from their warm and cozy classrooms. Feel free to follow along on our adventure together.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to read a little about our science team.

Satellite image of Antarctica, courtesy of NASA. The blue dot is McMurdo. The red dot is our field area on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

We've completed all the training and equipment preparations necessary to be safe and do our research.

Landon, Mike, and Wellington getting 1000's of bags ready to collect our ice samples.

Clement and Dr. Koenig preparing the radars.

Dr. Koutnik at Happy Camper School and our awesome teacher at Snow Mobile Engine Repair Class

Now that we are headed out, we will have no more hot showers, no more warm buildings, no more comfortable beds. We will be camping on the ice from here on out. And we are so excited we can hardly wait!

Where exactly are we headed? We are flying today to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide, also called WIAS Divide. Right now we are at the blue dot on the Antarctica map (McMurdo); today we will fly for over three hours to the red dot on the Antarctic map (WAIS Divide).

We will work for one week at WAIS Divide Camp, doing radar and drilling ice cores. After that, everyone except me (Dr. Rupper) will head off to do more radar and drill more ice cores at four more camp sites: Camp Adam, Camp Abigail, Camp Eli, and Camp Joel. They will be traveling by snow mobile and camping along the way for about two weeks. I will stay at WAIS Divide Camp and help another driling team drill a very deep ice core, until I can catch a ride back to the United States.

So why exactly are we going to WAIS Divide? We are trying to find out how much snow has fallen in Antarctica for the past 30-50 years (that's as old as most of your parents and teachers!). How will we do this? While doctors use x-rays to "see" the bones inside your body, we use radars to "see" inside the ice sheet. So we will use the radars to take "pictures" of the layers inside of the ice. These layers show how much snow fell each year. We will also bring back actual pieces of the ice from deep in the ice sheet. To do this we will use an ice core drill to pull up long pieces of ice from beneath the surface. We can match the layers we see in the radar "pictures" to the layers we see in the ice cores. So we will use the ice cores to help us understand the radar "pictures", and the two together will help us figure out just how much snow fell each year in Antarctica.

We will take lots of pictures of the radars and the ice core drilling and tell you more about how we do the science after we head out to WAIS Divide.

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