Norwegian-US Traverse - From Troll to Pole
November 16, 2007 - January 18, 2008
On November 16, 2007, the Norwegian-US Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica set out from Troll Station, close to the coast of Queen Maud Land. On January 21, 2008 - after 3,000 kms of travel across unexplored East Antarctica - after mechanical breakdowns and setting up "Camp Winter" about 350 kms from the Pole, the 8 Norwegians and 3 Americans arrived at the US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. This was one of the most ambitious undertakings of the current 4th International Polar Year, and one of the longest single-season traverses ever in the history of modern Antarctic exploration. American participation is supported by NSF, with logistics coordinated by the Norwegian Polar Institute. In Fall 2008, another Norwegian-US team returns, to travel back from South Pole to Troll.
Their mission is to explore the past 1,000+ years of East Antarctica's climate history, seeking clues to how temperature and atmospheric circulation have changed over time. Their tools are snow pits and ice cores, ground-penetrating radar (also used to alert them to crevasses!), an experimental UAV - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - and weather stations built from scratch by a UC Boulder grad student. They'll pick up fuel in the early weeks of the traverse from caches left in previous seasons, but then they'll be on their own - using up the weight of the gas that powers their sturdy red vehicles, but adding many kilograms of ice cores, the precious scientific ore their colleagues will mine for information in coming years. In these trackless wastes, where no human has passed before, they'll use satellite maps to guide them. In turn their observations will provide ground truth about the realities of surface conditions to allow researchers to understand exactly what the satellites are showing across this vast and little known half of the continent.
Once again in the 2008-2009 research season, you can follow the traverse and read a daily expedition diary - uploaded via Iridium satphone. The lead US scientist, Mary Albert, is an engineer at CRREL, the US Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, which provides additional information at their Web Site. Both sites include biographies of the international team, images of the cramped but cozy living module, maps and a detailed description of the scientific goals of the project.
What's missing in mere words and still images is the sense of personal commitment, the thrill of exploration, and the love of physical adventure that also fuels the traverse. POLAR-PALOOZA sent a videographer along for the first days of the journey, and Mary Albert and other members of the team have been using an HDvCC camera to capture additional scenes. In a series of podcasts, you'll meet the team in Cape Town, South Africa, and making last minute preparations at Troll. Then it's off... climbing high up onto the polar plateau, putting hundreds of kilometers on the clock, and beginning the science.
Continue viewing for tales of mechanical breakdown and repairs made with bare hands at minus 40, and the first deep ice cores. Our partners at Norwegian broadcaster, NRK, offers their own series of videos, some with English language comments from the US members of the traverse.
COMING SOON! Scenes of setting up "Camp Winter" - and the arrival at South Pole.
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POLAR-PALOOZA and the materials on this website are based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0632262. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE/Geoff Haines-Stiles Productions, Inc., and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.