What Are They Doing?

Mr. Gillette and a team of researchers and technicians from the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) spent two months documenting conditions at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) divide using a variety of techniques, including weather observations, GPS, ice coring, radar, and seismic sensing. The team characterized the base of the ice sheet by determining, for example, the amount of water and sediments under the ice, which were used to help interpret ice core data. Similar measurements over time contributed to an improved understanding of, and ability to predict, the impact of changes in polar ice sheets on sea level and climate. Additional information about this project can be found at the project website.

Where Are They?

The research team worked 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.

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West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), Antarctica
Project Funded Title
Surveying Conditions of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Brandon Gillette - Teacher
University of Kansas and the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS)

Brandon Gillette completed his undergraduate work at the University of Kansas in 2004 and his Masters of Education in 2006. For the past five years, he has taught junior high school and high school science in Olathe, Kansas. Mr. Gillette first worked with CReSIS in 2007-2008 as part of the PolarTREC program, partnering with scientists to spend five weeks in Antarctica as part of the Antarctica Ice Sheet Studies Expedition.

Mr. Gillette recently joined the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) and has returned to the University of Kansas as an education graduate research assistant where he has begun work on a PhD in geography and environmental science with an emphasis in GIS and remote sensing. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife and dog, traveling, and playing recreational sports, and will be running his first marathon in October 2010!

Sridhar Anandakrishnan - Researcher
Pennsylvania State University

Sridhar Anandakrishnan is an Associate Professor at Penn State University in the Department of Geosciences and in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Institute. Dr. Anandakrishnan's research interests include studies of ice sheet stability and history, glacier flow dynamics, and the influence of crustal structure on Antarctic ice sheets. Dr. Anandakrishnan hopes that PolarTREC can help introduce students and the public to the role of Antarctica in the global system.

Huw Horgan - Researcher
Pennsylvania State University

Huw Horgan is a PhD Candidate at Penn State University in the Department of Geosciences and is a member of the Penn State Ice and Climate group and CReSIS. Studying under Dr. Anandakrishnan, Huw Horgan's thesis addresses the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet using remote sensing and seismic techniques. Huw lead the field team and accompanyed Mr. Gilette to Antarctica.

Stephen Ingalls - Researcher
University of Kansas

Stephen Ingalls is the Associate Director for Administration at the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), headquartered at the University of Kansas. Dr. Ingalls’s responsibilities include the day-to-day management of the Center’s activities and daily oversight of the Center's education and knowledge transfer programs. He hopes that PolarTREC will expand the network of educators that can help motivate the next generation of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

Antarctic Ice Sheet Studies Resources


Given sets of graphable data students will show that various viewpoints can be supported depending on how data is presented and interpreted. These may or may not be accurate or relevant representations of data results over time. This lesson contains basic graphing components, interpretation of information and communication to others of findings depicted in graphs. Teachers may choose

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Middle School and Up
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We all know that Antarctica is a very cold place, and the scientists who work there are not the only ones who have to worry about staying warm. The animals that live in Antarctica have to protect themselves from the frigid conditions on a year-round basis. In order to keep heat they produce from escaping into the environment

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Elementary and Up
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PolarTREC teacher, Brandon Gillette is with a team of researchers from CReSIS and Penn State University studying the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, Antarctica. About 60 participants took part in the Live from IPY event.

In celebration of the International Polar Day and ice sheet themed Live from IPY event was held with ice sheet researchers from around the world, including some who called in from traverses presently crossing Antarctica. Due to technical difficulties, there is no audio on the Wimba archive. Audio will is separately accessible for the event.