DS0101 -

East Antarctic International Ice Sheet Traverse – EAIIST

A caravan, scientists, Antarctica and the immensity of the unknown in front of you

The polar regions are the areas most sensitive to global warming and the future of our environment will depend on their evolution. The project of our scientific transverse, traveling in complete autonomy on the centre of the Antarctic plateau aims to understand how these unknown and unexplored zones react to climate change. This includes understanding the impact of these regions on sea-level rise.

A scientific traverse in the middle of Antarctica to understand our climate and its future

French, Italian and Australian scientists unite their knowledge and capability to study the interior of the Antarctic plateau between the French-Italian Concordia station (75°S, 123° E), and the US South Pole station (90°S). The scientific objectives of EAIIST are to study the icy terrain of the Antarctic continent in its driest places. These areas are largely unexplored and unknowns and offer unique and extraordinary morphological characteristics suspected to be analog of glacial conditions. This international consortium of scientists is built around the idea to explore and study by the means of ground vehicles the geophysical (snow physics, surface mass balance, density, temperature, seismicity, etc.), geochemical (impurities, aerosols, air-snow transfer, water isotopes, etc.) and meteorological dimensions (AWS, atmospheric dynamic, air mass transport, etc.) of these most inhospitable and remote place on Earth nevertheless so important for the functioning of the climatic machinery of the Earth's climate.

To answer the scientific questions, a coordinated program of field observations, remote sensing, laboratory measurements, data synthesis and integration was established at meetings between scientists. During the traverse, mobile and fixed experiments will be conducted to couple spatial and temporal studies. The traverse will allow the deployment of autonomous instruments operating all year round thanks to autonomous energy sources (batteries, solar panels, wind turbines) in order to extend the surveys and to access a complete seasonal recording of the physical, glaciological and geophysical parameters of the visited sites.

Seismologists will find the quietest place on Earth, thousands of kilometers from any human presence. They will determine the internal structure of the ice, the density of the snow and ice, the profile of the bed-rock and record the sound of oceanic and atmospheric waves.

Chemists will sample the purest snow and atmosphere, which will reveal the «real« background chemistry, away from polar station activities but also the differences and similarities with other regions of Antarctica. They will establish the ability of these hyperarid regions to record climate information in the ice.

Physicists will study the world's largest surface structures, sculpted by wind and extreme accumulation regime. They will improve our understanding of the physical processes that affect snow metamorphosis by making accurate glaciological and optical measurements. They will link ground data to satellite data to improve our knowledge of mass balance in under-documented areas. Together, scientists will characterize this environment as the only analogue to the Antarctic Ice Age.

No results at this stage. All activities concern the preparation of the traverse: purchase of equipment, recruitment of students and young researchers, transport of materials, organization and coordination of activities with foreign partners, choice of sampling strategies.

The project is one of the largest Italian, Australia and France collaborative proposals in Antarctica to date, and will likely be a stepping stone towards future international work, as we plan to involve the next generation of polar scientists in the research. Antarctic research has always been an area for international collaboration, hampered by the cost of the science and the harshness of the conditions, but encouraged by the political context of the Antarctic treaty. The EAIIST project pursues a vision of Antarctica as a venue for science, peace, international friendship and furthering the well-being of humankind.

1. Favier, V., G. Krinner, C. Amory, H. Gallée, Beaumet J., C. Agosta, Antarctica-Regional Climate and Surface Mass Budget, Current Climate Change Reports, DOI 10.1007/s40641-017-0072-z, 2017a
2. Agosta, C., C. Amory, C. Kittel, A. Orsi, V. Favier,

Italian, American, Australian and French a scientists unite their knowledge and capability to study the interior of the Antarctic plateau between the French-Italian Concordia station (75°S, 123° E), and the US South Pole station (90°S). The scientific objectives of EAIIST are to study the icy terrain of the Antarctic continent in its driest places. These areas are largely unexplored and unknowns and offer unique and extraordinary morphological characteristics suspected to be analog of glacial conditions. This international consortium of scientists is built around the idea to explore and study by the means of ground vehicles the geophysical (snow physics, surface mass balance, density, temperature, seismicity, etc.), geochemical (impurities, aerosols, air-snow transfer, water isotopes, etc.) and meteorological dimensions (AWS, atmospheric dynamic, air mass transport, etc.) of these most inhospitable and remote place on Earth nevertheless so important for the functioning of the climatic machinery of the Earth's climate.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Joel Savarino (Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'environnement)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

UGA - LGGE Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'environnement
LSCE Laoratoire des sciences du climat et de l'environnement
CNRS DR12 - CEREGE Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Délégation Provence et Corse - Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement en Geoscience de l'Environnement
IPGS Institut de Physique du globe de Strasbourg
UNIVE Università Ca' Foscari Venezia
DC-TSE Dartmouth College-Thayer School Of Engineering
AAD Australian Antarctic Division

Help of the ANR 979,314 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2016 - 48 Months

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