Trans-Antarctic Scientific Traverses Expeditions & Ice Divide of East Antarctica

Project Description
Short Title: TASTE-IDEA
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One of the most extreme environments on the surface of Earth is the ice divide that crosses the inner part of East Antarctica. Along this ice divide, Earth's oldest layered ice, long-isolated subglacial lakes, and important earth crustal structures are located. Antarctic mass balance is the most significant gap in determining the current role of the cryosphere on the present and future contribution of land ice to sea level change. Despite past international efforts, most of the East Antarctic ice sheet is still unexplored and its subglacial geologic setting is completely unknown. East Antarctic ice cores provide the longest records of climate and atmospheric parameters but we still have an imperfect understanding of the means by which the signals of regional and global climate variability reach the coring sites and are locked into the ice records.
Only through a concerted international effort will it be possible to access the interior of East Antarctica with sufficient logistic support for on ground cutting edge research in the hitherto almost totally unexplored regions and to link coastal sites with the interior.
Several countries, under the auspices of SCAR and COMNAP have extensive experience undertaking ambitious scientific traverse programs in Antarctica. Twenty SCAR countries have been involved in the SCAR-IGBP ITASE traverse program during the last 10 years. TASTE-IDEA project represents the IPY evolution of this very successful programme. The traverses, coupled with airplane support, operate effectively as a polar research vessel, and offer ground-based platforms for multidisciplinary research coupled with the most modern technology.
The International Polar Year Trans-Antarctic Scientific Traverses objectives and main goals are to:
- Obtain a new set of ice cores to extend the record of climate variability in the past on time-scales from years to millennia to integrate the short duration and lacking in instrumental record.
- Survey of inner and coastal unexplored part of the continent by means of geophysical measurements, shallow drillings and remote sensing techniques.
- Obtain a chronological linkage between the main deep ice drill sites in East Antarctica and survey the present-day variability in climate-meteorological condition.
- Study how the signals of regional and global climate variability reach the coring sites and are locked into the ice record through the load and composition of atmospheric aerosol and gases and the processes occurring at the atmosphere/snow interface
- Study the effect of the ice divide on the present climatic conditions and determine the past variations of ice divide and dome location.
- Obtain geophysical and glaciological surveys required to identify the location of the longest coherent climate record in Antarctic ice.
- Provide new information for surface mass balance and ice sheet elevation change.
- Survey the ice dynamics and geologic setting of important earth crustal structures of East Antarctica Precambrian craton and at subglacial lake site.
- Deploy permanent and/or semi-permanent instruments in inaccessible regions for exploring Planet Earth and beyond.
- Revisit areas and sites first explored during IGY traverses to observe possible changes.
In order to achieve optimal results the scientific efforts along the individual traverse legs must be well coordinated, with a clear overall science plan and time frames for e.g. meteorological observations or upper air soundings.