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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 2000-01: VUWAE 45

Holocene Climate History from Coastal Ice (K015B)

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K 047 B Holocene Climate History from Coastal Ice

Antarctica New Zealand 2000/01

Holocene Climate History from Coastal Ice (K015B)

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1. Aims of this Project

The dynamic climate system of Victoria Valley is created by the interacting influences of the Dry Valleys, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Ross Sea. The sensitive balance and strong contrasts in this system means even subtle shifts in the regional annual temperature, sea ice extent, snow cover etc. significantly alter the local weather pattern. As such, a climate record of the Victoria Valley provides an ideal opportunity to study rapid, high frequency climatic variations.

During season 1999/2000 several shallow (30m) firn cores have been recovered from Victoria Lower and Baldwin Glacier. Their chemical and isotopic signals display the dynamics of the Victoria Valley, confirming the value of a long paleoclimate record from Victoria Lower Glacier (VLG). A 240m core from VLG is expected to provide a continuous data set of 10,000 years climate history, and will be recovered during season 2001/2002.

To fully explore the paleoclimatic significance of the ice cores, the Lower Victoria glacial system and the local climatic pattern have to be understood. For this bedrock topography and interior structures of VLG have been mapped, snow pits at VLG, Baldwin Glacier and Wilson Piedmont Glacier investigated and sampled, and current mass balance measured. A weather station, dust traps and ablation stakes haven been installed at VLG for the duration of eight weeks (Event Map).

In order to extent our record beyond 10,000 years, ice at the western snout of VLG (VIC2), has been investigated and sampled to determine its likely Pleistocene age.

Due to re-organisation of PICO (Polar Ice Coring Office, now Ice Core Drilling Services), the original plan of this season 'Holocene Glacial Ice - a Continuous Paleothermometer' has been altered, with the deep drilling (~240m) at VLG postponed until season 2001/2002. Instead we introduce some of the modules planned for our third field season; 'Ancient Ice Deposits - Windows into the Past'. The remaining project outline has been followed as proposed.

2. Planing


With the application process

The application procedure is very well organised resulting in a smooth process.


With Antarctica New Zealand staff

Antarctica New Zealand staff appeared very helpful and competent

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Provision of maps and aerial photographs

No maps or aerial photographs have been requested


To Pre-season Information

The information received was valuable and timely.


To Medicals, documentation and flights to Antarctica

It was well organised.

3. Cargo

All the cargo handling, including transport to and from Scott Base and storage at Scott Base and Christchurch, has been carried out with great care and professionalism.

Our cargo included ground penetrating radar, GPS, a weather station, snow sampling tools, a repair kit for the drilling system, mass balance measurement device, general equipment for ice core handling and laboratory items for the work at Crary Laboratory.

4. Personnel

Nancy Bertler, Principle Investigator Antarctic Research Centre Victoria University Prof. Peter Barrett, Scientific Supervisor Antarctic Research Centre Victoria University Matthew Watson, GPR Expert University of Auckland Victoria University and GroundSearch Ltd Bridget Ayling, Field Assistant Victoria University of Wellington Jordy Hendrikx, Field Assistant Victoria University of Wellington Dr. Hamish McGowan, Climatologist Victoria University of Wellington Mr. Kevin Nicholas, Field Guide Scott Base Staff

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5. Preparations for the field



The reception was well organised, friendly and efficient. The main issues of transport and time tables were discussed and determined.



The equipment requested from Scott Base was supplied in time and fully functional. This included two skidoos, a generator, and a chain saw. The Scott Base staff was very supportive and competent. In addition, equipment has also been requested from McMurdo Station, including, a light weight ice core drilling system from PICO, a generator (with American plug system and voltages), and a snow density kit.


Field training

The field training was helpful and appropriate. The additional crevasse extraction training was appreciated.


Delays at Scott Base


6. Field Transport

i)Aircraft Operations
Date Point of Departure Destination Personnel moved General Comments
30 Oct
Dunlop Island Victoria Lower Glacier Bertler Watson Nicholas weight 8,504 lb, 8 sling load shuttles with A-Star
Nov 00
Scott Base Victoria Lower Glacier Ayling Hendrikx no incidents, weight ~ 800 lb, with 212
09 Nov
Victoria Lower Glacier Scott Base Watson Nicholas no incidents, weight ~ 2600 lb, 2 shuttles with 212
20 Nov
Victoria Lower Glacier Scott Base Ayling transferred to Scott Base for medical reasons, weight 300 lb, with 212
27 Nov 00 Scott Base Victoria Lower Glacier Ayling no incidents, weight 300 lb, with 212page 5
29 Nov
Victoria Lower Glacier Cape Roberts none cargo only, sling double load of 1 skidoo and nansen sledge, weight 1,040 lb, with A-Star
02 Dec
Scott Base Victoria Lower Glacier McGowan no incidents, weight 300 lb, with A-Star
02 Dec
Victoria Lower Glacier Baldwin Glacier Bertler Ayling Hendrikx McGowan 3 shuttles, weight 3200 lb, with A-Star
09 Dec
Baldwin Glacier Wilson Piedmont Glacier Bertler Ayling Hendrikx McGowan via Victoria Lower Glacier, no incidents, 2.5 shuttles, weight 4030 lb, (including the equipment left at Victoria), with 212
09 Dec
Wilson Piedmont Glacier Scott Base McGowan no incidents, weight 500 lb, with 212
14 Dec
Wilson Piedmont Glacier Scott Base Bertler Ayling Hendrikx no incidents, weight 4000 lb, 2 shuttles with 212
18 Dec
Scott Base Victoria Lower Glacier Bertler pick-up of climate station, no incidents, weight 400 lb, with 212

7. Event Diary

Date of Movement Personnel moved Destinations Personnel at site, working tasks, and general comments
21 Oct 00 Bertler Watson Arrival at Scott Base Bertler, Watson and Nicholas
  • crevasse extraction training
  • preparation of the science gear
  • set up on skidoo and sledge
29 Oct 00 Bertler Watson Nicholas Leitch Brice Dunlop Island (by Huggland) Bertler, Watson, Nicholas, Brice, Leitch
  • preparation of the sling loads for transfer to Victoria Lower Glacier
30 Oct 00 Bertler Watson Nicholas Victoria Lower Glacier Bertler, Watson, Nicholas
  • camp set up at VIC 1
  • GPS base station set up
  • climate station set up
  • GPR/GPS survey of the glacier (a total of approximately 30km lines have been measured)
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09 Nov 00 Watson* Nicholas* Ayling Hendrikx Victoria Lower Glacier/Scott Base* Bertler, Ayling, Hendrikx
  • emergency camp set-up at VIC2
  • sampling two snow profiles at VIC 1 and VIC 2 (see location map)
  • recovery of ice cores from seven locations (see location map)
  • including Pleistocene ice
  • GPS survey of all sampling sites
  • glacial mass balance measurement
  • ablation measurements
  • set-up of dust traps
20 Nov 00 Ayling Scott Base transferred to Scott Base for medical reasons
27 Nov 00 Ayling Victoria Lower Glacier return to field camp
02 Dec 00 Bertler Ayling Hendrikx McGowan Baldwin Glacier Bertler, Ayling, Hendrikx, McGowan
  • sampling of snow profile
  • set-up of dust traps
  • set-up of radiation measurement device for albedo values and radiant heat transfer within the snow pack
  • sampling of dust reference material
  • detailed hourly weather observation
  • GPS survey of glacier topography
09 Dec 00 Bertler Ayling Hendrikx McGowan* Wilson Piedmont Glacier/*Scott Base Bertler, Ayling, Hendrikx
  • camp set-up
  • sampling of snow profile
  • recovery of ice core
  • GPS survey of glacier topography
  • detailed weather observation
14 Dec 00 Bertler Ayling Hendrikx Scott Base Ayling, Hendrikx
  • leaving for Chch on 19 Dec 00 Bertler
  • work at Crary Lab, McMurdo on ice and snow samples
  • leaving for Chch on 02 Jan 01
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8. Event Map

Event Map

Event Map

9. Weather

A weather station had been installed at Victoria Lower Glacier, S77°19.810′/ E162°31.991′

Air Temperature

Air Temperature

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Relative Humidity

Relative Humidity

Solar Radiation

Solar Radiation

Wind Speed

Wind Speed

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Snow Pack Temperature

Snow Pack Temperature

10. Accidents, incidents or hazards

There have been no accidents, incidents or hazards.

11. Field Equipment


Field Clothing

The issued field clothing proved to be appropriate and satisfied greatly our requirements.


Field Equipment

The supplied field equipment was in good shape and very reliable.


Food in the field and at Scott Base

The 20 person day ration boxes were well packed in terms of nutrition and quantity.

The food offered at Scott Base was both: delicious and nutritious.


Specific Field equipment

The allocated skidoos, the chain saw and generator were in good condition. The new service box proved to be of excellent use. The PICO hand auger with power head was in rather poor condition and without the re-supply of a variety of spare parts made up at Scott Base, drilling would not have been possible. We are very grateful for the innovative and supportive attitude of the Scott Base staff! The generator and snow density kit lent from the Berg Field Center performed well.

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12. Radio Communication


Radio equipment

The radio kit issued (two VHF radios (old and new type), two batteries, one external aerial and two solar panels) worked reliably, with only minor communication problems.


Reception and Transmission

The reception and transmission was in general satisfying. The external aerial was helpful, repeater stations were used during the whole time.


Information during sheds

During the first part of our field work, the radio communication with Scott Base was very efficient, professional and highly appreciated.

13. Scott Base and Arrival Heights Laboratory Facilities

The summer laboratory has been used to test our science gear and was adequate.

14. Refuge and Research Hut


15. Environmental Impact


Event Diary:

Victoria Lower Glacier
  • Location S 77° 19.810′/ E 162°31.991′
  • Dates: 30 Oct to 02 Dec 2000
  • Total days: 33
  • Maximum number of people at site: 3
  • Total person-days spent at site: 92
  • Main activity undertaken: GPR, GPS, snow profile sampling and ice coring
Baldwin Glacier
  • Location S 77° 19.836′ / E 162°32.019′
  • Dates: 02 Dec to 09 Dec 2000
  • Total days: 7
  • Maximum number of people at site: 4
  • Total person-days spent at site: 28
  • Main activity undertaken: snow profile sampling, GPS, radiation measurements
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Wilson Piedmont Glacier
  • Location S 77° 16.000′ / E 163°15.000′
  • Dates: 09 Dec to 14 Dec 2000
  • Total days: 6
  • Maximum number of people at site: 3
  • Total person-days spent at site: 18
  • Main activity undertaken: snow profile sampling, ice coring, and GPS survey

Protected areas



Interference with terrestrial, freshwater or marine plants or animals



Collection of geological material

A total amount of 900 lbs of ice has been sampled
Victoria Lower Glacier: ~ 400lbs
Baldwin Glacier: ~ 100lbs
Wilson Piedmont Glacier ~ 400lbs

Chemicals taken to the field

0.5 Itr of Methanol have been taken into the field. The liquid has been handled with great care, no incident occurred.


Use of explosives



Importation to Antarctica



Equipment left in the field

Two mass balance systems (in form of 25m of wire and two 2.40m metal rods), which had been installed during season 1999/2000 have been visited and re-measured. An additional device has been installed at VIC 2 (see location map). Once further mass balance measurements are not required, as much as possible will be removed from the device.

Fig. 1 Mass balance device

Fig. 1 Mass balance device

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Environmental impacts

The environmental impact of our work has been less than minor. The only observed source of pollution were exhaust fumes of the skidoos, generator, the chain saw and helicopters.


Occurrence of incidents



Changes from the PEE

Scenario I has been followed as described in the PEE

16. Historic Sites


17. Management of Science in the Ross Dependency

The support from Scott Base was very helpful and highly appreciated.

18. Antarctic Geographic Place Names