Press Kit

Information for the Press.

Download our WISSARD Contact Information (PDF)

Grounding Zone Gravel Beds and Fish

  1.  IMAGE 1 - This picture shows ancient marine sediments frozen onto the bed of the ice sheet.
  2. IMAGE 2 - Fish swimming over a bed of angular gravel.  The gravel and smaller sediments covering this seafloor fall out of the base of the melting ice sheet that is located here about 30 feet above the seafloor.

IMAGE 1: WhillansGZ_Gravel_beds Caption:  This picture shows ancient marine sediments frozen onto the bed of the ice sheet.  Project paleontologist, Prof. Reed Scherer (NIU), found in samples of these sediments shells of microscopic marine diatom fossils. This suggests that the ice sheet is eroding sediments that have been laid down in this marine basin when climate was much warmer than today. Remnant organic matter from these sediments may help feed the modern ecosystem that we found thriving beneath ice. Organic remains old life may be an important source of nutrients here.  (Image credit: Deep-SCINI UNL-Andrill SMO).

IMAGE 2: WhillansGZ_Fish2 Caption: Fish swimming over a bed of angular gravel.  The gravel and smaller sediments covering this seafloor fall out of the base of the melting ice sheet that is located here about 30 feet above the seafloor.  We observed in the several hours of taking this video a number of gravels and many smaller fragments falling down on the seafloor.  This may be why benthic life (e.g. sea stars, sponges, urchins) has not established itself on this seafloor because it would be pelted by the rock fragments falling from above.  However, fish are agile enough to avoid these projectiles as they take advantage of these seemingly desert-like feeding grounds. (Image credit: Deep-SCINI UNL-Andrill SMO).

Zip Files:

McLane In Situ Filtration

WISSARD 2015 Camp Scenes

Sediment Coring WISSARD Grounding Zone 2014-2015

   

Basal Ice Coring Images WISSARD Grounding Zone

    

Grounding Zone Graphic 2015

This season our target is the grounding zone, where the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet atop land meets the Ross Sea. This area is considered an important piece of the puzzle for our scientists interested in ice sheet dynamics. The work will help scientists assess the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, most of which sits below sea level. It is the last ice sheet on Earth resting in a deep marine basin and is the most likely player in any future, rapid sea-level rise. If the grounding zone is retreating or primed to retreat, rapid changes in ice behavior could follow over the next century. Work focused on microbial life, biogeochemical cycling, and surrounding geophysical surveys will also continue during the 2014-2015 season. Our intentions are to have 8 days of science in the primary borehole at the Grounding Zone location mid-January. We will deploy all of the WISSARD tools during this period and recover sediment and water samples from the water cavity some 750 meters below the surface of the ice. We also hope to recover about 5 meters of basal ice cores at another borehole very near the primary hole. Image: Rachel Xidis/NIU.

2014 Whillans Ice Stream Map

Map of Whillans Ice Stream, West Antarctica showing active subglacial lakes (blue bodies), main predicted subglacial water flow paths (blue lines), grounding line (where ice transitions from resting on bedrock or sediment to floating over ocean; black line), and WISSARD drill sites (white stars). The location of the Subglacial Lake Whillans and the area of the Whillans Ice Stream grounding zone selected for detailed study are indicated. Inset map shows location of Whillans Ice Stream in Antarctica. (Map by K. Christianson, New York University and St. Olaf College, 2014).

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2014 WISSARD Map

Prepared by Matthew Siegfried Scripps Institution of Oceanography University of California, San Diego

 

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WISSARD Site Map 2013-14

Whillans Ice Stream Map with Grounding Zone used for planning during the 2013-14 season

Antarctica/US Size Comparison

Antarctica is BIG. The United States is 400 square miles, while the Antarctica is 500+ miles in size; a full 25% larger than the the U.S.

Image from NASA

WISSARD GPS Sites 2013

 Map of the 23 GPS WISSARD sites for 2012-2013

Lake Whillans Ice Stream Surface Velocity

A map of the surface ice stream velocities in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with the geographic position of Lake Whillans identified. Created by Sasha Carter, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD.

Subglacial Lakes Graphic

Graphic of the Antarctic Subglacial Lake SystemGraphic of the Antarctic Subglacial Lake System.   An artist's representation of the aquatic system scientists believe is buried beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Additions added to show Lake Ellsworth and Lake Whillans.

Credit: Zina Deretsky / NSF

WISSARD graphic

WISSARD cutaway graphic subglacial lakes     WISSARD Graphic as used in the Chicago Tribune, November 2012

WISSARD Test Site Map (WISSPOT)

Map of WISSARD terst site  Map of the WISSARD Test site

WISSARD Deep Field Site Map

Overview map of the WISSARD Deep Field SiteOverview Map of the WISSARD Deep Field Site at Subglacial Lake Whillans.

Press Releases

WISSARD's Doing Science 2015

Project Update December 2015

NIU scientist Ross Powell is leading a National Science Foundation-supported effort to drill through the ice, probe grounding zone’s influence on rising sea levels:

US team poised to access and sample Subglacial Lake Whillans: One of the last unexplored frontiers on the planet

Project Overview Press Release

WISSARD Media Contact List

WISSARD Contact Information 2015 Lead Science Contacts (Expected on site at Whillans Ice Stream Grounding Zone 1 Jan-24 Jan 2015) Dr. Ross Powell, Chief Scientist WISSARD Project, ross@geol.niu.edu; * Deep field contact powellro@imcs1.usap.gov through January 21st 2015 (tentatively)...

Antarctica/US Size Comparison

Antarctica is BIG. The United States is 400 square miles, while the Antarctica is 500+ miles in size; a full 25% larger than the the U.S. Image from NASA