Seasonal Sea Ice Production in the Ross Sea


Now Archived! PolarConnect event with Jennifer Bault and researchers Hongjie Xie and Yongli Gao studying Seasonal Ice Production in the Ross Sea in Antarctica. You can access this and other events on the PolarConnect Archives site.

What Are They Doing?

Photo by Lollie GaraySea ice in the the Ross Sea. Photo by Lollie Garay. In situ measurements and airborne surveys of snow depth and sea ice thickness are key for improving estimates of sea ice production and water mass transformation in the Ross Sea. The principle objective of this scientific expedition based on McMurdo Station is part of the PIPERS: Polynyas and Ice Production in the Ross Sea, project to fully capture the space/time evolution of the air-sea-ice interactions initiated during autumn and tracked into winter/spring in the Ross Sea. This project will collaborate with a New Zealand team to measure snow and ice thickness of the fast ice in McMurdo Sound, for validation of sea ice thickness imaged from airborne IcePod’s Shallow Ice Sounding Radar, and also mapping pack ice thickness and types from IcePod’s lidar, visible and thermal cameras. These data will be compared with ice thickness measurements from NASA’s IceBridge mission in the Ross Sea to extend the sea ice thickness measurements in this region to multi-years. PolarTREC teacher Jennifer Bault will be a full participant in sampling and conducting geophysical field measurements of the snow and ice, with a possibility to get onto IcePod flights to watch the scientific data collections from different types of sensors onboard IcePod.

More information about the PIPERS project and a cruise blog can be found here. PIPERS LogoPIPERS logo

Where Are They?

Photo by Michael LeagueA view of McMurdo Station from Observation Hill. Photo by Michael League. The PolarTREC teacher will be stationed in McMurdo Station and will travel to nearby fast ice, ice shelf, mountain and glaciers to gain first hand experiences of the Antarctic cryosphere.

Expedition Map


Tree Cutting Day
Home and recovered, mostly anyway! Take away the struggle with my sleep schedule and all is well. It has been nearly two weeks since I arrived back in Wisconsin. I was met with open arms from an excited and loving family. My students were eager to have me back as well and being back in the classroom was a welcome treat after being gone for so long. There was no snow when I landed at MKE, but thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long for its arrival. After seeing it everyday for 5+ weeks, I was missing it and the views from the ice. This trail in WI is a bit different than those in...
Seal pup in backpack
Longest day ever... really, at least for me! Here is the rundown: Depart Phoenix Air Field - 7:15 pm, Monday Arrive Christchurch, NZ - 3:15 am, Tuesday Customs & USAP Office check-in, 4:30 am Arrive at hotel, check-in, repack, 5-6 am Sleep - 6-8am Leave hotel - 8:30 am Leave Christchurch - 11am Arrive Auckland - 12pm, Tuesday Leave Auckland - 3pm, Tuesday (12+ hour flight - no sleep) Arrive in San Francisco - 6:45 am, Still TUESDAY!!! Customs and recheck-in - 7:00-8:30 am Depart San Francisco - 10:40 am Arrive in Chicago 5pm Arrive in Milwaukee at 7pm - STILL TUESDAY!!...
Last Views from Hut Point
It is time to go. My time here has been fabulous, a trip of a lifetime. I have met amazing people, hiked beautiful terrain and seen some of the most spectacular views. I have walked where no other human has ever walked, cross country skied and fat-tired biked. I ran a 5k, collected ice cores and worked with some of the most skilled scientists I have ever encountered. But now, it is time to say goodbye. I will miss my new friends and the sights that Antarctica has offered, but I am anxious to see my family. If I am lucky, I will be home in time to celebrate my eldest daughter's 16th...
Four men
Another stunning landscape, a gorgeous view of the Dry Valleys. The initial view as we headed out on the Armitage Loop Trail. Last long hike and final trail completed. Armitage Loop trail was the day's activity. The trail itself is 3.17 miles in one direction. We walked it both towards Scott Base and back to McMurdo. It was another beautiful day in Antarctica. The sun was shining, temperature reasonable warm and the visibility, perfect. The four men who accompanied me on our hike of the Armitage Trail Loop, our last big hike! From left to right, Yongli Gao, Hongjie Xie, Todd...
Group of runners
Thanksgiving begins with brunch. I awoke later than usual, a result of not having slept well the preceding nights due to the Icepod flights. My fitbit read 8:30am and I needed to get to brunch knowing I wouldn't be eating dinner until 5pm. The turkey trot check-in started at 9:30am with a race start of 10am. Brunch closes at 11 and I wasn't sure I would have the time or the desire to eat after the race. I headed to the galley. The weather was sunny and beautiful. It was 17˚F. Not too bad for a morning in Antarctica. Dry Valleys on a beautiful day. The weather is perfect and...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

Dates: 21 October 2017 to 25 November 2017
Location: McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Project Funded Title: Collaborative Research: Seasonal Sea Ice Production in the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Meet the Team

Jennifer Bault's picture
Nicolet Union High School
Glendale, WI
United States

Jennifer developed her love of nature and science at a young age, a result of spending time on her parent’s farm and from many family camping trips around the US. She became a third generation teacher in 1997 and has never looked back. Teaching is a natural fit for her due to her own love of learning. She teaches AP Environmental Science and AP Biology at Nicolet Union High School just north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and a principal’s and C & I director’s license. She is looking to complete a PhD in Environmental Science with a concentration in Science Education Research. Most recently, Mrs. Bault traveled to Nzega, Tanzania in 2014 with CETUSA and completed American Wilderness Leadership Training in Wyoming in 2015. Every experience makes its way into her classroom and enhances her teaching and interactions with her students. She also loves to engage her students in learning experiences outside of the classroom through a variety of field trips, including an outdoor education overnight camping trip. Jennifer is an avid hiker and enjoys camping, reading, and traveling with her husband and two teenage daughters when not in the classroom.

Hongjie Xie's picture
University of Texas at San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
United States

Hongjie Xie is a professor at the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at San Antonio. His specialty is remote sensing for hydrology and cryosphere studies. In-situ measurements and field experiences are crucial in helping scientists to understand and interpret what we see from the satellite images and to develop and improve algorithms for retrieving geophysical properties of objects imaged from satellite sensors. Since 2006, he and his research team have been traveled (over 10 times) to the three Polar Regions (Arctic, Antarctic, and Tibetan Plateau) for data collections and experiments. His main research focus has been on mapping sea ice, snow cover, glacier lakes and their changes under the warming climate. Since 2010, he has been a co-lead (funded by NASA and U.S. Department of Education) for summer workshops, specifically designed for K-12 educators to gaining knowledge on earth and environmental science/engineering, including the polar science and climate changes.

Stephen Ackley's picture
University of Texas San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
United States

Stephen Ackley is a research associate professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and has worked and conducted sea-ice research in Antarctica for more than 30 years. He previously worked with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) and then joined the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Texas San Antonio in 2006. Ackley Point in Antarctica was named to honor Ackley for his outstanding sea-ice work by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Ackley Point is an ice covered point located near McMurdo Sound.

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Latest Comments

Thanks for reading and following along on my journey. I appreciate it! I uploaded one final journal tonight and it contains a 6 minute amateur video of the entire experience if you or your students...
Hi Peggy, So nice to hear from you. I will have to stop in and chat sometime. The experience was such a tremendous gift. I loved every minute! Jennifer On 11/29/17 4:38 AM, PolarTREC wrote:
I have thoroughly enjoyed viewing your amazing trip. Will be nice to see you!!!
Jennifer, my classes have enjoyed your journal entries. I laughed out loud when I saw your last picture of the toilet on the airplane. I'm sure that my students will have some questions! Thanks for...
Neville, thanks for this. I am looking forward to coming home. I really miss you kids and teaching. I have had an incredible journey. I have loved every minute and learned so much. I am glad you...