Written by Nicolas Bayou
11 March 2019
POLENET, a multiyear NSF-funded project, has entered its third award phase. The team for the 2018-19 Antarctic season, composed of six people, left McMurdo station for the remote field camp of WAIS Divide on December 13th, 2018. During the six-week deployment, the team installed five new GPS stations on the coast of Marie Byrd Land. In addition to the GPS stations, five seismic stations were installed by IRIS/PASSCAL engineer Aurora Roth of Socorro, NM. The team also took the opportunity to visit five previously installed stations to perform minor upgrades. Both GPS/seismic stations on the Thwaites Glacier were brought to the surface and should be operating during the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration project.
Two first-generation ANET stations were decommissioned during this period, as the geometry of the network is shifted toward better coverage in West Antarctica. The British Antarctic Survey decommissioned Mount Sugg (SUGG) in the Ellsworth Mountains and Ramsey Glacier was decommissioned by UNAVCO engineers Annie Zaino, Keith Williams and Joe Pettit from McMurdo Station.
The POLENET Antarctic Network (ANET), established in 2007, consists of GPS/GNSS and seismic instruments located in the West Antarctic region (see Figure 11). Technology used within the network has evolved since its inception. A new-generation design for the GPS stations includes the low-power Resolute GNSS receiver from Xeos Technologies. With embedded Iridium communication capabilities, this lower-power receiver reduces station battery requirements by half. This results in a difference of about 800lb per site during station installation and removal compared to the original POLENET station design.
Installing new stations involves a great deal of scouting. Potential sites were identified with the help of the Kenn Borek Air crew the previous season and satellite imagery provided by the Polar Geospatial Center (University of Minnesota). The presence of loose volcanic rock required the development of a new style of GPS/GNSS antenna monument suitable for such rock conditions. High winds and low temperatures pose an ongoing challenge for the team. While the weather was mostly good for installation of the new sites in 2018-19, challenging days included a memorable Toney Mountain maintenance visit with 60kts winds.
Last modified: Monday, 25-Mar-2019 16:12:12 UTC