Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica

  • Released Tuesday, February 16, 2010
  • Updated Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 12:41PM
  • ID: 3669

This data visualization shows the routes and dates of two scientific field expeditions over LandSat Image Mosaic of Antarctica ( LIMA ) data. A light blue curve shows the drive towards the South Pole in 2007-2008 with the locations of the ice core drilling sites labeled. A darker blue line represents the 2008-2009 traverse from Camp Winter to the South Pole and back to the Troll Station. A black tickmark is placed every 100 kilometers on the traverse route to give a sense of scale.

A massive, largely unexplored region, the East Antarctic ice sheet looms large in the global climate system, yet relatively little is known about its climate variability or the contribution it makes to sea level changes. The field expedition for this international partnership involves scientific investigations along two overland traverses in East Antarctica: one going from the Norwegian Troll Station to the United States South Pole Station in 2007-2008; and a return traverse by a different route in 2008-2009. This project will investigate climate change in East Antarctica.

One of the most pressing environmental issues of our time is the need to understand the mechanisms of current global climate change and the associated impacts on global economic and political systems. In order to predict the future with confidence, we need a clear understanding of past and present changes in the Polar Regions and the role these changes play in the global climate system.

For more information about this project go to

This set of frames shows both traverse routes, and all of the ice core locations. The preview images shows the 2008/2009 traverse ice core location 4, ice core location 5, and ice core location 6. These frames are the same as the above set except the date overlay has been removed. Black tickmarks are placed on the traverse path every 100 kilometers to give a sense of scale.

This set of frames is the date overlay for the traverse.

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The 4,900-kilometer roundtrip journey will take place in the high elevations of the continent, generally between altitudes of 3,000 and 4,000 meters above sea level. Troll Station itself is at about 1,270 meters and the South Pole rises to nearly 3,000 meters. The light blue curve represents leg #1 from November 2007 through January 2008. The darker blue curve represents leg #2 from December 2008 through February 2009.

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The Norwegian-US Traverse team arrived at historic Plateau Station on December 22, 2007, which is just a little more than halfway on their journey to the South Pole.

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The ice core locations from the 2007/2008 traverse are shown in light blue and the 2008/2009 locations are in darker blue. Ice cores provide a unique archive for studies of past climate conditions. Scientists study a multitude of different parameters in the ice cores, including electrical properties, isotopic composition, chemical composition, physical properties, and firn temperature. Electrical properties allow detection of volcanic ash layers in the ice cores whereas analysis of e.g. oxygen isotopes and chemical profiling provides information of temperature variations and atmospheric conditions. Together, our studies will allow for a detailed picture of snow characteristics and help with the determination of accumulation rates as well as interpretation of radar data.

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The traverse starts and ends at the Troll Station. The light blue path represents the first leg and the darker blue represents the return leg.

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A view of the region around theTroll Station without any lablels or paths.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio LIMA Data provided by: Patricia Vornberger (SAIC) LIMA data produced by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and NASA


This visualization is based on the following papers:
  • httP://


This visualization is related to the following missions:


This visualization can be found in the following series:

Datasets used in this visualization

Lat-Lon GPS Coordinates
Data Compilation | NASA and the Norwegian Polar Institute
Landsat-7 LIMA (A.K.A. Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica) (Collected with the ETM+ sensor)
Mosaic | NASA/GSFC, British Antarctic Survey, USGS EROS Data Center

Mosaicing to avoid clouds produced a high quality, nearly cloud-free benchmark data set of Antarctica for the International Polar Year from images collected primarily during 1999-2003.

Dataset can be found at:

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Terra and Aqua MOA (A.K.A. MODIS Mosaic of Antarctica (MOA) Image Map) (Collected with the MODIS sensor)
Mosaic | National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the University of New Hampshire

Staff from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the University of New Hampshire have assembled two digital image maps of surface morphology and optical snow grain size that cover the Antarctic continent and its surrounding islands. The MODIS Mosaic of Antarctica (MOA) image maps are derived from composites of 260 MODIS (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) orbit swaths acquired between 20 November 2003 and 29 February 2004. The MOA provides a cloud-free view of the ice sheet, ice shelves, and land surfaces, and a quantitative measure of optical snow grain size for snow- or ice-covered areas. All land areas larger than a few hundred meters that are south of 60° S are included in the mosaic, as well as persistent fast ice regions and some grounded icebergs present near the coast in the 2003-2004 austral summer. The MOA surface morphology image map is derived from digitally processed MODIS Band 1 data. The optical snow grain size image is compiled using a normalized ratio of atmospherically corrected, calibrated band radiance data from Bands 1 and 2.

Dataset can be found at:

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Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

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