The mission of this International Polar Year (IPY) project is to uncover secrets of the enigmatic Gamburtsev subglacial mountains that are buried by up to 4 km of ice; to hunt for the oldest ice on our planet; to study subglacial lakes and to discover new clues of past, present and future climate change.
The Gamburtsev subglacial mountains are thought to be the birthplace of the vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet. This project will reveal clues to how the mountains were formed and provide scientists with the best location for future ice core drilling campaigns.
Geophysicist Dr Fausto Ferraccioli of BAS is leading the UK science effort. He says,
“This is both an exciting and challenging project. It is a bit like preparing to go to Mars. Because of IPY, scientists from six countries are working together to do the unthinkable, to explore the deep interior of East Antarctica – one of the last frontier regions of our planet. For two and a half months our international teams will pool their resources and expertise to survey mountains the size of the Alps buried under the ice sheet that currently defy any reasonable geological explanation. At the same time, we will hunt for ice that is more than 1.2 million years old. Locked in this ancient ice is a detailed record of past climate change that will assist in making better predictions for our future.”
Working at high altitude in temperatures of minus 40ºC, science teams will operate from two remote field camps to complete the first major geophysical survey to ‘map’ the mysterious landscape that lies beneath the vast ice sheet.
The science teams will use a range of state-of-the-art technologies to build an unprecedented 3-dimensional view of this secret world. BAS and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) will work together with the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) to deploy two survey aircraft, equipped with ice-penetrating radar, gravimeters and magnetic sensors. US, Chinese and Japanese teams will study the deeper structure under the Gamburtsev subglacial mountains using seismology.
Mounting this scientific expedition is an enormous and challenging international effort involving six countries, nine aircraft and two deep-field science camps. All this is supported from US Amundsen-Scott Station at South Pole, McMurdo Research Station, from the Australian Davis Station and the BAS Rothera Research Station. Science and support teams on the Chinese tractor-train from South Pole to Zhongshan Station will sample ice cores and decommission the UK-Australian Camp.
Professor Nicholas Owens, Director of British Antarctic Survey says,
“There’s an amazing history of our planet locked in Antarctica’s ice and rocks. It’s only now that we have the technology to start uncovering the secrets from this unique natural laboratory. This is really big science and it can be done only by working with partners from other national Antarctic programmes. It’s exciting, very demanding in terms of physical hardship and logistics coordination, but this joint effort will yield the kind of information that scientists need to understand our past, present and future climate. In a changing world, with so much uncertainty about our future it is absolutely crucial for society that we find answers to fundamental questions about our Earth.”
Athena Dinar | alfa
Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute
Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences