Norwegian-United States IPY Scientific Traverse

Climate Variability and Glaciology in East Antarctica

Map showing traverse route of Norwegian-US IPY scientific traverse
Image of Antarctica. The traverse route is shown in red. Image courtesy of: Jan-Gunnar Winther

A NEW ICE CORING PARTNERSHIP between the U.S. and Norway will enable scientific investigations along two overland traverses in East Antarctica: one going from the Norwegian Troll Station (72º S, 2º E) to the United States South Pole Station (90º S, 0º E) in 2007-2008; and a return traverse starting at South Pole Station and ending at Troll Station by a different route in 2008-2009. The project will investigate climate change in East Antarctica, with the goals of understanding climate variability in Dronning Maud Land of East Antarctica on time scales of years to centuries, and determining the surface and net mass balance of the ice sheet in this sector to understand its impact on sea level. The project will also investigate the impact of atmospheric and oceanic variability, and human activities, on the chemical composition of firn and ice in the region. It will revisit areas and sites first explored by traverses in the 1960’s, for detection of possible changes and to establish benchmark datasets for future research efforts.

Close up image of the traverse route
Close up image of the traverse route. Source:

The results of this study will add to understanding of climate variability in East Antarctica and its contribution to global sea level change. The project includes international exchange of graduate students between the institutions involved and international education of undergraduate students. It involves extensive outreach to the general public both in Scandinavia and North America through the press, television, science museums, children’s literature, and web sites. Active knowledge sharing and collaboration between pioneers in Antarctic glaciology from Norway and the US, with the international group of scientists and students involved in this project, provide a unique opportunity to explore the changes that half a century have made in climate proxies from East Antarctica, scientific tools, and the culture and people of science. The project is relevant to the International Polar Year (IPY) since it is a genuine collaboration between nations: the scientists involved have complementary expertise, and the logistics involved rely on assets unique to each nation. It is truly an endeavor that neither nation could accomplish alone. This project is a part of the Trans- Antarctic Scientific Traverse Expeditions - Ice Divide of East Antarctica (TASTE-IDEA), and the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS), both of which are part of IPY. More information can be found at