Note: This article is over a year old and information contained in it may no longer be accurate. Please use the contact information in the lower-left corner to verify any information in this article.

Jacobel completes eighth Antarctic field season

By David Gonnerman '90
January 21, 2011

"We got our butts kicked out there this year," says Jacobel of the challenging Antarctic conditions his team faced this year. "But we made it back and the science is tremendous."

Professor of Physics Bob Jacobel recently returned to the U.S. base in Antarctica at McMurdo Station together with Knut Christianson ’05, a graduate student at Penn State University who will begin teaching at St. Olaf in the fall, after successfully completing a challenging seven-week field study of an area of fast-moving ice in West Antarctica.

The purpose of their research, as part of the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project, is to study a lake that lies nearly 800 meters below the surface. “The lake is of interest because it is part of the underlying water system that controls the motion of the ice stream, one of the primary areas of discharge of Antarctic ice to the ocean,” explains Jacobel.

This season Jacobel and Christiansen completed more than 400 km of gridded radar profiles over the lake area, sometimes navigating through storms and whiteout conditions using only GPS.

Subsequent WISSARD research will involve drilling into the lake and embedding instruments to study the microbial ecology and understanding connections between under-ice life and physical controls on the ice motion.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or