Seasonal Sea Ice Production in the Ross Sea


As part of the PIPERS project, there is a research cruise in the spring of 2017. You can follow the cruise blog here.

What Are They Doing?

Photo by Lollie GaraySea ice in the the Ross Sea. Photo by Lollie Garay. In situ measurements and airborne surveys of snow depth and sea ice thickness are key for improving estimates of sea ice production and water mass transformation in the Ross Sea. The principle objective of this scientific expedition based on McMurdo Station is part of the PIPERS: Polynyas and Ice Production in the Ross Sea, project to fully capture the space/time evolution of the air-sea-ice interactions initiated during autumn and tracked into winter/spring in the Ross Sea. This project will collaborate with a New Zealand team to measure snow and ice thickness of the fast ice in McMurdo Sound, for validation of sea ice thickness imaged from airborne IcePod’s Shallow Ice Sounding Radar, and also mapping pack ice thickness and types from IcePod’s lidar, visible and thermal cameras. These data will be compared with ice thickness measurements from NASA’s IceBridge mission in the Ross Sea to extend the sea ice thickness measurements in this region to multi-years. PolarTREC teacher Jennifer Bault will be a full participant in sampling and conducting geophysical field measurements of the snow and ice, with a possibility to get onto IcePod flights to watch the scientific data collections from different types of sensors onboard IcePod.

More information about the PIPERS project and a cruise blog can be found here. PIPERS LogoPIPERS logo

Where Are They?

Photo by Michael LeagueA view of McMurdo Station from Observation Hill. Photo by Michael League. The PolarTREC teacher will be stationed in McMurdo Station and will travel to nearby fast ice, ice shelf, mountain and glaciers to gain first hand experiences of the Antarctic cryosphere.

Expedition Map


Flat Lorax with Pipe Line
Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock. Orientation is over. Hurry up and pack. Got to get to the airport. What a week. I am happy to be returning to my family but will miss the fun and excitement of being in a new place and meeting new people. I have learned so much and met some truly amazing individuals whom I hope will become lifelong friends! Orientation was so well planned and I am thankful to all those who made that possible. On top of being introduced to all of the technology and logistics of polar travel, I also got to learn some science along the way here in Fairbanks. UAF researchers...
Distance to McMurdo
Day three of PolarTREC training is coming to a close. I am writing from my hotel room in Fairbanks, Alaska trying to figure out how to save and export my first video. I would like to include it in tonight's journal. We shall see if I have success. Stay tuned below! We visited the Museum of the North today and heard a fabulous presentation on the Arctic Ground Squirrel. The squirrel has some very interesting physiology, plenty of which researchers are still trying to assess and understand. I am going to geek out a bit on the science here, but it's cool stuff, literally! The animal...
Sunset from IARC
I once completed the swimming leg of an ironman competition. I had prepared for weeks swimming countless laps back and forth in a local school pool. I had also done enough sprint and olympic length triathlons with swims in lake water to know what I would be facing on race day. I knew what I had signed up for and I didn't want to let my team down. I had to swim well. On race day, I got in the water, which of course was cold and always shocking to the system. The lake was just shallow enough to ensure the swim would be choppy and choked with sediment from the lake bottom. As I neared the...
Continent of Antarctica
”You're in!” My husband had texted only 2 words. Oh my gosh, somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming. I stared at his message until my brain could comprehend what that meant. I quick touched the e-mail icon on my phone. My heart was pounding. PolarTREC. My interview was yesterday. I wasn't supposed to hear until the end of the month, but there it was like a beacon in the night. I clicked on the e-mail. I read it and re-read it several times. Tears of joy were streaming down my face. I had been selected by researcher Dr. Ackley to join him and his team to travel to Antarctica. I...

Project Information

1 November 2017 to 25 November 2017
Location: McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Project Funded Title: Collaborative Research: Seasonal Sea Ice Production in the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Meet the Team

Jennifer Bault's picture
Nicolet Union High School
Glendale, WI
United States

Jennifer developed her love of nature and science at a young age, a result of spending time on her parent’s farm and from many family camping trips around the US. She became a third generation teacher in 1997 and has never looked back. Teaching is a natural fit for her due to her own love of learning. She teaches AP Environmental Science and AP Biology at Nicolet Union High School just north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and a principal’s and C & I director’s license. She is looking to complete a PhD in Environmental Science with a concentration in Science Education Research. Most recently, Mrs. Bault traveled to Nzega, Tanzania in 2014 with CETUSA and completed American Wilderness Leadership Training in Wyoming in 2015. Every experience makes its way into her classroom and enhances her teaching and interactions with her students. She also loves to engage her students in learning experiences outside of the classroom through a variety of field trips, including an outdoor education overnight camping trip. Jennifer is an avid hiker and enjoys camping, reading, and traveling with her husband and two teenage daughters when not in the classroom.

Hongjie Xie's picture
University of Texas at San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
United States

Hongjie Xie is a professor at the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at San Antonio. His specialty is remote sensing for hydrology and cryosphere studies. In-situ measurements and field experiences are crucial in helping scientists to understand and interpret what we see from the satellite images and to develop and improve algorithms for retrieving geophysical properties of objects imaged from satellite sensors. Since 2006, he and his research team have been traveled (over 10 times) to the three Polar Regions (Arctic, Antarctic, and Tibetan Plateau) for data collections and experiments. His main research focus has been on mapping sea ice, snow cover, glacier lakes and their changes under the warming climate. Since 2010, he has been a co-lead (funded by NASA and U.S. Department of Education) for summer workshops, specifically designed for K-12 educators to gaining knowledge on earth and environmental science/engineering, including the polar science and climate changes.

Stephen Ackley's picture
University of Texas San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
United States

Stephen Ackley is a research associate professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and has worked and conducted sea-ice research in Antarctica for more than 30 years. He previously worked with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) and then joined the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Texas San Antonio in 2006. Ackley Point in Antarctica was named to honor Ackley for his outstanding sea-ice work by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Ackley Point is an ice covered point located near McMurdo Sound.

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Latest Comments

Thanks Mom & Dad! I shall enjoy every aspect of this incredible journey! On 2/13/17 4:58 PM, PolarTREC wrote:
Hi Boy what an experience Now u can do all kinds of homework. The kids will get a lot out of this study. You did a great job hope u enjoy every minute ..Not everyone could experience what u just...
Thanks Lee. Hope your trip home was safe. I'm back in WI and hoping to get out my last journal tonite with a video! Jennifer On 2/12/17 3:57 PM, PolarTREC wrote:
I loved your entries and photos of the ground squirrels!
Hi Anna, Thanks so much for the message. Flat Lorax did not get in on the squirrel but did get in on the pipeline! I will have pictures to show on Monday. I miss you kids a lot. See you soon, Mrs...