Paul Andrew Mayewski, Gordon Hamilton (University of Maine)
Brian Welch (St. Olaf College)
Introduction: US ITASE is foremost a scientific endeavor that seeks to collect the highest quality scientific data under the safest and most efficient conditions possible. It has been operating successfully as a traverse platform since 1999 for a total of six field seasons and over this period has traversed >8000km.
US ITASE is a multi-disciplinary project that as of the 2007-2008 field season includes six separately funded science projects:
Surface radar (PI Steve Arcone, CRREL)
Surface glaciology and remote sensing (PI Gordon Hamilton, UMaine)
Deep radar (PIs Bob Jacobel and Brian Welch, St. Olaf College)
Ice core chemistry (PIs Paul Mayewski and Kirk Maasch)
Ice core stratigraphy (PI Deb Meese, UMaine)
Ice core stable isotopes (PI Eric Steig, UWashington).
These science activities are coordinated logistically under the umbrella of a science management office (PIs Paul Mayewski and Gordon Hamilton, UMaine)
This report includes a brief introduction to ITASE, US ITASE Phase 1 (1999-2003) and details of the second portion (2007-2008) of Phase 2 US ITASE. Previous US ITASE Annual Field Reports (1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2006-2007) describing logistics and science are available at (Field Reports).
Introduction to ITASE: ITASE is a multi-national (21 nations), multi-disciplinary field research program with the broad aim of understanding the recent environmental history of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Primary emphasis is placed on collecting records covering the last ~200 to 1000 years of past climate over Antarctica to allow examination of the modern anthropogenic era plus at least the previous 100 years of naturally forced climate. We conduct our research at selected sites to include the two most recent analogs for cold and warm climates, the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period, respectively.
ITASE evolved from discussions between representatives from several national ice coring programs during a meeting hosted by the European Science Foundation in Grenoble, France in 1990. Twelve nations formulated the original concept (Australia, Canada, China, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) at the suggestion of the US representative to that meeting (P. Mayewski). Scientists from Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Canada, India, Korea, New Zealand, Norway and Poland have since joined the program.
ITASE was formally accepted in 1991 by the overarching international committee for Antarctic research, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), as one of its primary initiatives. ITASE is officially recognized as a Scientific Program Group. It was adopted as an IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere Program) Project in 1993. The SCAR ITASE Project Office is located at the University of Maine along with the US ITASE Scientific Management Office. Phase 2 of US ITASE (2006-2008) is one of the US contributions to IPY (International Polar Year).
Since the initiation of ITASE, several international workshops have been held for purposes of organization and data interpretation. One of these workshops led to the development of an international Science and Implementation Plan for ITASE (Mayewski and Goodwin, 1997, (see Science Plan). Other international workshops have taken place in Durham, New Hampshire (1999), Potsdam, Germany (2002), Milan, Italy (2003), Bremen, Germany (2005), and Hobart, Tasmania (2006). The next SCAR sponsored ITASE meeting will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia. These workshops have provided important venues for data sharing, concept development, preparation of joint publications, and coordinated logistics planning.Introduction to US ITASE: US ITASE is effectively a polar research vessel. It offers the ground-based opportunities of traditional style traverse travel coupled with the modern technology of GPS navigation, crevasse detecting radar, remote sensing, satellite communications and multi-disciplinary research. By operating as a ground-based transport system US ITASE offers scientists the opportunity to experience the dynamic environment they are studying. US ITASE also offers an important interactive venue for research through multi-disciplinary interactions similar to that afforded by oceanographic research vessels and large polar field camps, without the cost of the former or the lack of mobility of the latter. More importantly the combination of disciplines represented by US ITASE provides a unique, multi-dimensional (space and time) view of the atmosphere, the ice sheet and their histories (Fig. 1). When US ITASE Phase 1 reached South Pole at the end of the 2002-2003 field season, it had sampled the physical and chemical environment of West Antarctica over spatial scales in excess of 5500 km and 3500 m in depth, and over time periods ranging from several hundred years (at sub-annual scale) from ice cores to thousands of years from geophysical techniques.
A list of scientific products (abstracts, papers, reports) produced by research teams involved in US ITASE is available in: “Toward a High Resolution Southern Hemisphere Climate Reconstruction: Mapping the Antarctic ice sheet in space and time” produced by members of US ITASE available at (Publications/hirespaper).
Among the scientific accomplishments of US ITASE thus far are:
The results of many of these projects are contained in peer-reviewed papers in a dedicated special volume of Annals of Glaciology (volume 41) plus in several other journals (Publications).
In addition to the foregoing US ITASE and ITASE have been instrumental in producing a document entitled: “State of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Climate System (SASOCS)” prepared for the Antarctica and the Global Climate System committee of SCAR. This document provides a basis for assessing and understanding future climate change over Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and will be released over the next few months. SASOCS also serves as a building block for an even larger SCAR initiated document entitled: “Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE)” that will be finalized by 2009.