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Ice Core Drilling in West Antarctica 2010

All the PolarConnect events with Heidi Roop and the Ice Core Drilling team in Antarctica are now archived here.

Meet the Team

Researcher - Heidi Roop

Heidi Roop's picture
University of New Hampshire/ Desert Research Institute
Seattle , Washington
United States

Heidi Roop grew up exploring the formerly glaciated landscape of Wisconsin, and today continues her love for studying glaciers and climate variability through research in Antarctica and alpine regions around the world. Spending the austral summer of 2010-2011 in Antarctica, it will be her second season working as a part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide project. When she is not in Antarctica, she works throughout the Sierra Nevada studying climate variability and hydrology for the United States Geological Survey.


February 3, 2011 Goodbye Antarctica: Mystery Photo #11 Solved!

Mystery Photo 11-Solved
Did you guess that the image was of the inside of an airplane? The airplane, or C-17, that takes passengers back from the ice to New Zealand is pretty neat inside. All of the vents, cables, and wires are exposed so you can really see the 'innards' of the airplane. It is fascinating to see how many...

February 2, 2011 Mystery Photo 11: Time to head North!

Mystery Photo 11
Can you guess what this is a picture of? Hint: I needed it to get home. What is in this picture?

January 29, 2011 Was that a penguin?

Emperor Penguins
My first Antarctic penguins! I arrived in McMurdo after an uneventful cold deck flight from WAIS Divide. The last ice collected this season is now in McMurdo, safely in the SafeCore refrigeration units.

January 29, 2011 I'm Leaving on a Cold Deck

Out goes the ice!
Today I leave WAIS Divide. In a matter of hours I will be on Ross Island at McMurdo Station. I am leaving before the rest of the crew as I have been selected to travel with the last pallets of ice cores. I will fly on a cold deck, where the plane will be cooled to at least -10 C. This season, we...

January 29, 2011 What I'll miss about WAIS Divide

The Ice Family
Many aspects of life change when you move to an ice sheet to camp for over two months. Some of these changes, like sleeping in a tent outside or working in a freezer at -30 C all day, are difficult to adjust to, but soon they become normal. Being in a relatively small camp with the same ~35 people...

Project Information

West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide Ice Core Drilling Project
West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide, Antarctica
15 November 2010
15 February 2011

Where are They?

The research team will be at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) drill site, in western Antarctica. The WAIS divide sits on top of 3,485 meters of ice, thicker than 9 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of one another! The WAIS is classified as a marine-based ice sheet, meaning that its bed lies well below sea level and its edges flow into floating ice shelves. The WAIS is bounded by the Ross Ice Shelf, the Ronne Ice Shelf, and outlet glaciers that drain into the Amundsen Sea.

What are they Doing?

Using a large hollow drill, the WAIS Divide Ice Core Drilling team aims to collect a 3,500-meter-long ice core, or sample of ice, from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Because of the weight of the overlying snowpack, snow that falls and accumulates on ice sheets re-crystallizes and forms annual layers over time. The ice core recovered during the project will have annual resolution, or distinct yearly markings, for the past 40,000 years!

In ice sheets, the compression of snow traps small bubbles of air in the layers of ice. By measuring concentrations of greenhouse gasses and non-greenhouse gasses and their isotopes trapped within bubbles in the ice, the team aims to develop climate records dating back to 100,000 years before present.

This ice core will provide the first Southern Hemisphere climate and greenhouse gas records of comparable time, resolution, and duration to ice cores previously recovered in Greenland. The ice core will enable scientists to make detailed comparisons of greenhouse gas concentrations and environmental conditions between the Northern and Southern hemispheres with a greater level of detail than previously possible. The biology of the ice collected will also be investigated.


Title Date About Type
Heidi Roop and Ice Core Drilling on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 21 January 2011 PolarConnect event with Heidi Roop who is working with an Ice Core Drilling team on the West... Event
Heidi Roop and Ice Core Drilling on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 7 January 2011 PolarConnect event with Heidi Roop and the Ice Core Drilling team on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet... Event
Heidi Roop and Ice Core Drilling on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 16 December 2010 This PolarConnect event was held on 16 December 2010 with Heidi Roop who is working with an ice... Event
WAIS Divide, Antarctica with Heidi Roop and the Ice Coring Team 11 January 2010 Live from IPY! event with researcher Heidi Roop and other members of the ice coring team at WAIS... Event