Images of the Day

STEMfest 2014

STEMfest at Northern Illinois University

Wed 11-12-2014

A very enthusiastic WISSARD NIU Crew kicks off the beginning of the 2014-2015 season with Dr. Richard Alley, fellow polar scientist, and author of "Earth: An Operator's Manual." at STEMfest on the NIU campus. This free community event, in its 5th year, reached more than 7,500 people. The WISSARD group created glaciers with glacier goo, played the game Polar Opposites with the crowd, and answered a lot of questions about Antartica and the WISSARD project. More images to follow.


Subglacial Lake Whillans Microbial Cell

Sat 11-01-2014

A microbial cell (center) collected from the Subglacial Lake Whillans water column in January 2013 by the WISSARD Science Team. The cell was trapped on a filter, dehydrated, coated with a thin layer of platinum, and photographed using a Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope. Photo by Trista Vick-Majors.


Success in the Field!

Wed 01-29-2014

Link to WISSARD Deep Field Gallery

Mission accomplished for the WISSARD team, all shown here. Four holes drilled, and seismic, tilt, and temperature equipment deployed. They have packed up equipment and traversed back to the Subglacial Lake Whillans site, where they are packing and winterizing additional equipment. The whole team will fly to McMurdo in the next few days, followed by the 3-member traverse team, which will make the ~12 day trek. Image by Chad Carpenter, who used a timer and slid into place laying down in the front just in time. His antics made Graham, left, and Dan, right, laugh and even got Dennis to smile. Check out the TransAntarctic Mountains, behind. Beautiful. Job well done!


Blue boots

These Boots Were Made for Working....

Sat 01-18-2014

Today was another successful one for the WISSARD team. Collectively we are working hard to transmit images from the field. So far, this image is what has made it through the email system. We can say definitively that the WISSARD crew are wearing their boots and getting a lot accomplished!

After completing the first hole at Site 1A, nicknamed "Sticky" and deploying instruments, the team moved 1.5 km upstream to Site 1B, nicknamed "Spot". The team is currently drilling and deploying instruments at Site 1B, today January 17th.

The group is progressing on schedule due to lots of hard work on the part of the traverse, drill, and science teams.

Thanks to UNL driller and electrician extraordinaire, Chad Carpenter for his images and the great effort the field group is taking to send them. As soon as we find the images, presumably circling the globe in the radio waves, we will post them with additional information! Go WISSARD!

Link to Antarctic Deep Field 2014 gallery


WISSARD is Science News Reader Favorite in 2013

Wed 01-15-2014

WISSARD discovery of life in Lake Whillans named Science News reader favorite of 2013

Online readers of Science News clicked on "Life found deep below Antarctic ice," an article about the discovery of living cells in subglacial Lake Whillans by the WISSARD team, more often than any other piece published on the magazine's website last year.

WISSARD, the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling program, used a sterile, hot-water drill to melt through 800 meters of ice to reach the waters of Lake Whillans. Preliminary tests in the field and subsequent work in the lab confirmed the presence of living microbes in the lake-water sample. It will still be some time before the identity of the microbes is known.

The original Science News article was written by Janet Raloff who traveled to Antarctica with support from NSF as part of an annual program that offers members of the media the opportunity to observe and report on U.S. research and activities on the southernmost continent.
Please read the top ten article here:

And the original article about the WISSARD discovery here:


Traverse Arrives

WISSARD Traverse Arrives at Deep Field Camp

Sat 01-11-2014

The WISSARD Traverse arrived at the CReSIS camp/SLW skiway Station and began preparations for drilling and science operations. They cleared snow from the WISSARD drill components on the winter-over berms, moved fuel, fixed generators, and melted snow. A busy day! Tomorrow the traverse team will load science gear for the Roving Drill boreholes.

We are glad for the safe arrival of the traverse team; the drill team and additional scientists will arrive at the camp January 13th via air, if weather conditions allow.


WISSARD Site Map 2014

Thu 01-02-2014

This season the WISSARD drill team is operating a smaller roving drill which will enable the geophysics science team to travel to two sites within 50 and 100 kilometers from the 2012-2013 Lake Whillans site. At each site, two 15 cm holes will be drilled, using the hot water roving drill, to a depth of 750 meters. Seismic, tilt and heat sensors will be deployed into the holes, and left in the ice to collect long term data. Because the ice stream will not be breached the team does not have to employ the clean access technologies used during the 2012-2013 season. The geophysics team is servicing and collecting data from 20 GPS stations set up in the field which are monitoring ice movement along the Whillans Ice Stream.



The WISSARD Traverse Leaves McMurdo Station

Tue 12-31-2013

The WISSARD traverse with the roving drill is off, and headed to the deep field. Three tractors make the ~13 day ~650 mile trip. Stay tuned for details. Good luck to the drivers Steve Zellerhoff, and the two Kevins, Kevin Williams and Kevin Walker! And thanks to ASC organizer, Julie Raine.


geophysics team

Field Operations Begin...

Mon 12-30-2013

Exciting news from the field! The WISSARD geophysics team arrived at Subglacial Lake Whillans and began field operations for the 2013-2014 season. After digging out the equipment left at SLW for almost 3 days and removing some pretty big snowdrifts with a lot of muscle power and a front end loader, Dr. Tulaczyk and team report that the seismic string which was deployed and left in the SLW borehole just 20 meters above the lake (approximately 780 meters below the surface) almost a year ago, is functioning and has been collecting continuous temperature and seismic activity data! Great News!

The team will continue to set up and service some of the 22 additional GPS stations, while waiting for the drill and equipment to arrive via traverse. The traverse is scheduled to leave McMurdo today.

2013-2014 Geophysics team, Robin Bolsey, Carolyn Branecky, Neil Foley, Slawek Tulaczyk, Matt Siegfried, and Catherine Grace Barcheck.


Top Science Stories in 2013: WISSARD, Life Under Ice in Discover Magazine!

Wed 12-18-2013

Subglacial lake research was in the news in 2013, from Lake Vostock, to Lake Ellsworth to Lake Whillans. Kudos to Douglas Fox and JT Thomas who wrote and photographed the piece Life Under the Ice featuring the WISSARD project for Discover Magazine. The story, originally appearing in the July 2013 issue, was named number 12 of Discover Magazine's top 100 stories for 2013!


Ice Streams from the air

Follow WISSARD this Season: 2013-2014!

Mon 12-16-2013

Members of the WISSARD geophysics team are on the ice, and are preparing for another busy field season. Field gear is being packed, equipment is being tested, and the drill is being finalized and readied for the traverse. Check out two blogs from the field team. One from veteran Team Leader, Matthew Siegfried, from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and another from new WISSARD Carolyn Barnecky from the University of California, Santa Cruz,


The image shows an ice stream from the air. Image, C. Barnecky


Happy Antarctica Day!

Mon 12-02-2013

Antarctica Day was inaugurated in 2010 to celebrate the 1st December 1959 signature of the Antarctic Treaty, which was adopted "with the interests of science and the progress of all mankind." The Antarctic Treaty has been signed by 48 nations to date and covers the area south of 60˚S latitude. The Treaty has ensured that Antarctica remains a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.