Airborne Geophysical Survey of the Amundsen Sea Embayment, Antarctica (AGASEA)
This award supports a comprehensive aerogeophysical survey of the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE) in West Antarctica. The University of Texas will join forces with the British Antarctic Survey to use both US and UK aircraft and instrumentation to achieve this survey. Analyses of the new aerogeophysical
data will result in the generation of maps of ice sheet surface, volume and bottom-interface characteristics. These maps will support the efforts of a community of US and international researchers to assess the present and predict the future behavior of the ice sheet in the ASE.
The West Antarctic ice sheet has been the subject of intensive interdisciplinary study by both the European and U.S. scientific communities since it was recognized to be a potential source for up to 5 meters of sea
level rise, possibly on short timescales. In terms of ice discharge, the ASE is the largest drainage system in West Antarctica. Yet it has been comparatively unstudied, primarily due to its remoteness from logistical
centers. The ASE is the only major drainage to exhibit significant elevation change over the period of available satellite observations. Present knowledge of the ice thickness and subglacial boundary conditions in the ASE are insufficient to understand its evolution or its sensitivity to climatic change.
The results from our surveys are required to achieve the fundamental research objectives outlined by the US scientific community in an ASE Science Plan. The surveys and analyses will be achieved through international collaboration and will involve graduate students, undergraduates and high school apprentices.
Through its potential for influencing sea level, the future behavior of the ASE is of primary societal importance. Given the substantial public and scientific interest that recent reports of change in West Antarctica have generated, we expect fundamental research in the Amundsen Sea Embayment, enabled by our surveys, will have widespread impact.
Data Management Plan
None in the Database