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Norwegian-American Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica


Firn Temperature

Temperature profiling by the University of Colorado

Science Objectives

Firn Temperature profiles will be used to investigate anthropogenic-era temperature change in the interior of Antarctica. Many of near-surface air temperature records from stations around Antarctica indicate slight cooling trends for the past 2 to 3 decades, except stations on the Antarctic Peninsula. However, there are only two stations with long-term records (about 50 years) in the vast interior of Antarctica, South Pole and Vostok. Temperature distribution in firn (transition zone between surface snow and ice) and ice is one of a few sources used to reconstruct surface temperature history. We will investigate how the surface temperature has been changing in the interior of Antarctica, in the context of global climate change in recent decades.


  • Temperature strings with PRT (Platinum Resistance Thermometers) will be inserted into the firn at four sites along the traverse route.
  • Temperature profile down to 90 m depth at each site will be monitored over one year.
  • Data will be transmitted using ARGOS satellite system.
  • inversion method will be applied to collected data to reconstruct surface temperature history
  • Results will also be compared with ice core data

Thermistor String IIEach station will have 16 PRTs (Platinum-resistance thermometer) over 90 meters of depth. Temperature can be determined with the accuracy of about 0.02 to 0.03 degrees Celsius.

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