Jorge: Why is Antarctica important to NASA?
Jorge, A number of reasons. First in my mind is that the ice sheet contains
enough ice to raise sea level 60 meters. If sea level increases just one
meter (and research is telling us this is likely before the year 2100), it will
affect tens of millions of people living at the coast. NASA conducts a
lot of research of this planet, trying to understand how our climate works. Ice
sheets are an important part of that. There also is NASA’s interest
in using Antarctica as a place to test instruments and ideas for missions planned
for exploring other planets and moons. NASA astronauts even train there
sometimes. Another reason is that telescopes at the South Pole get a very
special look at the sun and other stars. During the Antarctic winter, the
sun never rises, so night lasts 6 months, allowing some very long looks at stars. During
summer, the sun never sets, allowing astronomers to study the sun for a very
long continuous period.
Ms. Stoica's class (from Romania):
Ms. Stoica, I want to complement you on your wonderful classes. Your students
are among the very best that competed in the LIMA Challenge. Congratulations. I’m
sure they think you are a terrific teacher. I certainly think so!
1) How can we exactly measure what will the raise of the ocean be? What
the limit that should concern us?
There are satellites that measure the ocean elevation directly,
there are tide gauges that tell us what is happening at the coast (because sometimes
the land is either rising or falling relative to the rise in sea level), and
there are satellites that are measuring how the volume of ice sheets is changing. Sea
level is rising now about 3 millimeters per year and this rate appears to be
increasing. By the year 2100, sea level will probably be one meter higher. This
is a concern to me and should be to everyone. If we do not ignore these
facts and predictions, then there is time for us to plan to live with rising
sea level. No one is in danger of being flooded tomorrow, but we need to
start building new structures farther from the coast.
2) These days people have foreboding thoughts about Antarctica and they see
a tragic future provoked by global warming. How serious is this problem and
can we still do something to solve this?
The biggest concern is related to sea level rise.
plan for the change and the costs will be very small.
3) Are you going to continue the research on the Mount Takahe area?
I expect to continue my research. I need to wait at least one year as NSF
supports other projects. My hope is that in late 2009 we will be able to
return. We know our measurements are critical to improving models predict
our future. I want to start these measurements as soon as
Corina: Hello, I am student at "Tudor Vianu" National
Science National College, Bucharest, Romania, and I took part at
project about Antarctica. It was very interesting to find more
about this continent, and I was wondering if there will be, in
some other projects having this theme? I think it would be nice
investigate more the vegetation and the fauna (the microscopic
found on this territory, their exploitation and their protection.
also be developed their role in the world's ecosystem. Thank you
and I am
looking forward of hearing about future collaboration.
We plan to offer another challenge with LIMA
this coming autumn. I’m
glad to hear that you are interested in biology. We will
try to include an option for investigating Antarctic biology in
>> Hello and welcome
to the final webcast for the LIMA Quest Challenge.
I'm Rebecca Greene and I work at the NASA research center in the
With me today is Linda Conrad.
>> Some of you already know me
because I've been talking to you through emails and encouraging
you along and writing your proposal. I'm today going to be watching
very carefully in the chatroom for your questions because we'll
want to make sure that your questions get answered while we're
on the air.
This is a good time to start. Go ahead and put questions into the
chatroom as we continue on with the reviews.
also have scientists with us today from other locations across
Some are joining us through video webcast and some over the phone.
We're going to meet those scientists and find out what they do
and how their work relates to the LIMA project.
First we'll start with Bob Bindschadler the chief scientist coming
to us from NASA in green belt, Maryland.
Tell us about yourself, what you do and how your work is important
.>> Thank you very much, Rebecca.
It's a thrill for me to be here today and I want to thank the NASA
Quest people for organizing this challenge.
It has been an important part of putting this dataset, this land
set image mosaic of Antarctica together.
I also want to thank the students who looked at LIMA, many of whom
I hope are logged in today and even those who aren't.
I would say, for me I've been working in Antarctica for 25 years
and working with land set data for all of those 25 years.
It's a fundamental dataset that I work with trying to understand
how the ice sheet flows, how fast it is going now, how fast it
went in the past and how fast it is going to go in the future.
That affects sea level worldwide.
That's a fundamental question we address.
Because I work with that data I've always wanted to see something
like LIMA put together, a true color high resolution version of
the continent of Antarctica.
I have to thank the National Science Foundation for funding the
work that allowed us to put this dataset together and we did it
because of the International Polar Year.
That was the catalyst that brought everything together to produce
While we were doing -- putting this dataset together, it was primarily
done for the scientific community but I realized, wow, this is
what Antarctica really looks like and what a fantastic opportunity
to show that to the public and let the public become more familiar
with Antarctica through this dataset.
And that's really what this challenge is about because as I was
looking at parts of Antarctica that I'm less familiar with but
looking at it with the LIMA data, I realized I was exploring the
continent going to places where I had never actually set my boots
on the ground and that was exciting and I thought that excitement
would be the type of excitement that kids would really enjoy.
And that was the seed from which this challenge grew.
And so that's what we're here to talk about today.
What students did do, what they did explore, what they found out
and I asked a few of my colleagues to join me on the scientific
panel here to read some of the submissions that were contributed
and fortunately some of them were able to join us today.
So I hope that's enough background about what I do, how the LIMA
dataset came about and with that I'm going to pass the camera,
I guess, over to my colleague, Tom Wagner at the National Science
Tom.>> Can you hear me, everybody?
Yes, you can hear me or not, Bob?
>> We can hear you.>> Great.
Tom Wagner and I'm the program direct for for what's called the
Antarctica Earth sciences program covering from glaciers in Antarctica
to fossils and volcanoes and things like that.
The reason I got involved with LIMA.
Geologists are interested in maps of where they'll work.
A few years ago we had a meeting and what we realized was we needed
a new map of Antarctica.
I think you guys can see on the wall behind me here is one of our
older style maps.
I don't know if you can tell but it is hand drawn.
It's a pretty map but when people did things in the old days they
would take a picture taken from an airplane and they would draw
on it and so the outlines on there are good, but they're not as
detailed as the picture that we have now from the satellite data
and putting that all together.
So for people who want to work on the geology of Antarctica like
somebody who wants to fine a new dinosaur skull they have to figure
out where can they go.
Where are rocks they might like to find.
This new map of Antarctica is the map they're working with today.
When you're down there you have to wear things like heavy gloves
and rubber boots to insulate you against the cold.
Another thing is the airplanes we fly around have skis on the bottom
and wheels, too, and they can switch back and forth.
It's a pretty exciting place to work.
And I just want to say, too, I think you put in a fantastic group
I think you came up with great ideas and I can't wait to talk to
you about all of them.>> Thank you, Tom.
Next we'll have Ginny CATANIA
.>> I'm here in Austin and wondering
if you can see the slide that I sent in that's online
.>> Then that is a picture of me all bundled up in my
Antarctica gear and on the right is the data that I collect.
It's data collected using an ice penetrating radar that allows
us to look into the ice sheet down to the bed of the ice sheet.
I'm interested in the bed properties.
How the bed of the ice sheet actually controls ice sheet flow but
interested in how the ice moves in general.
I use satellite imagery like LIMA for a lot of different things
including where to do radar because we can only collect data in
a few places on the ground.
It's hard logistically to get around the whole ice sheet and we
use satellite imagery a lot to determine what areas we want to
go to, what the conditions are like when we get there.
These kind of datasets are extremely important for us to get into
the field and plan our field seasons and also to understand some
of the things that we're seeing in the ice sheet and how they,
you know, are maybe similar or different in other regions.
We look for similar features from the satellite imagery all over
the ice sheet to see if we can go different places and see similar
features or different features, try to characterize the internal
ice sheet and the bed below.
This project is exciting for me to see Antarctica in a new way
and interested in seeing your proposal and opens up new research
avenues for us as well.
It is great to be here.
>> Our fourth and final scientists,
Ted Scambos joined us in April but is not with us today.
However, he has submitted some reviews of the proposals which we'll
share during the webcast and I'm going to ask Bob to tell us a
little bit about Ted before we move on.
>> Well, Ted is one
of my success stories because Ted, when he first came here to work,
he had just received his Ph.D. He was a geologist and looked for
things like Kimber light deposits but I got him interested in ice
and he has done a fantastic job in studying ice.
He now works at the University of Colorado and boy, he's been all
over the world.
He's one of the leading researchers in looking at ice shelves which
are showing very dramatic signs of change.
In fact, a few most dramatic examples are where the ice shelf disintegrates.
One of the proposals we'll be talking about focused on that topic.
So I'm sure Ted was -- felt very gratified to see that.
But Ted is a very enthusiastic, energetic, bright, intelligent
glacial olist looking at how ice flows in Antarctica and Greenland.>> Those
are the scientists who are with us today.
Let's start the rest of our webcast by reviewing what you've been
doing over the past couple of months.
As a group of our scientists, you have studied the formations that
have been revealed by LIMA.
You've selected a formation that is of specific interest to you,
and hopefully you've written a proposal that explains why you think
this particular ice feature should be studied in more detail.
As well as sharing your ideas the geologic processes that you think
are happening in relation to this ice feature.
We've had an educated guide that you've hopefully followed along
and has given you some sort of a format as to the type of proposal
that we've been looking for.
We've had several good proposals submitted to us thus far and we're
going to offer our feedback on those proposals today during this
Again, the main features of your proposal that we'll be speaking
to are the ice formation that you found interesting and then the
geologic processes that are associated with that ice formation.
So let's go to our first proposal.
It comes to us from Ms. Murphy's class at Alexandria senior high
Ginny what kind of feedback can you offer on their proposal?
is an interesting proposal.
They're interested in looking at the ice bridge that's between
black island and white island and it is a region that's very
close to Mcmurdo.
They are trying to understand if the ice bridge is melting and
determining how long it might take for it to melt.
They're interested in seeing how global warming might effect the
I thought it was an interesting idea.
The thing they may want to look at is trying to get a series of
images of this ice bridge over time to see if it's melting at all
and then to observe if there is any maybe seasonality in the melt
signal or if the melt rates are varying over time.
The other thing I thought might be interesting to add is to look
at ice bridges or other areas that are in different regions that
might be melting at different rates to see if there is a regional
or spatial trend.
>> Bob, any comments you would like to add?
I think I want to emphasize when Ginny already said because that
was what struck me most positively about this proposal, the fact
that they got the idea right away that a time series is important.
LIMA does represent what amounts to a snapshot of Antarctica from
1999 to 2003.
We had to have a few year time window to get enough images but
that just is a snapshot and so many of the changes that are going
on require a series of images to be collected and so they identified
that as a requirement for them to be able to answer their hypothesis
of -- that the ice bridge is changing or not changing.
I will mention that Ted Scambos also indicated that he recommended
that it would be interesting as Ginny already said to look at other
places around the continent to see if this type of formation, a
connection of thicker ice between two islands, occurs elsewhere
around the continent.
I'm sure that if they do explore the continent they'll find a number
of places it occurs and connected it with what's happening in the
Changes in the climate, warming, how is that affecting the ice
It had a lot of interesting questions.
I think clearly they found something that piqued their interest
and applied some questions that they were asking themselves in
the real world experience to Antarctica.
It had a lot of good pieces to it.
>> I have a couple of questions
from Ms. Murphy's class.
The first one is how has PERMA frost in Antarctica changed.>> I
think most of it is that.
Where we see it changing dramatically is in the arctic.
In the Antarctica the actual continent itself is not warming very
much at all.
Around the peninsula parts that stick a little bit farther in that
case north, quarter away from the poles are warming but the continent
itself is still staying quite cool.
So we don't see many changes in the PERMA frost.>> Thank
Okay, let's take a look at proposal number two.
This one comes from Collin at hill homeschool.
Ginny, what feedback can you offer on Collin's propose all?
like this proposal a lot.
The image is very interesting.
It is almost like an image of another planet when you look at it.
What it is a bunch of icebergs that are floating on the ice on
The sea ice around it has gotten close to the icebergs and it has
caused this big area to be kind of -- [inaudible] and so Collin
was interested in looking at this area to see if it's a possible
indicator of what is a climate change in this region and one idea
that I thought was interesting about this is that it may signal
that the region, as Ted mentioned in his comments, is cooling which
allows for the fast ice around these icebergs to stay in place
over a long time period.
So instead of expecting the ice shelves to disintegrate which is
what we would expect with global warming this area appears to have
ice shelf that's forming.
We need to look at the data a little more closely and see if it
lasts for a lot of years into the future.
It will be interesting to monitor this area over time and see if
it stays the same or grows thicker.
There was one sentence in here that I wanted to say was probably
But it is a small comment.
Just about icebergs in Antarctica that supply freshwater to the
We can't bring icebergs from Antarctica to people to use for freshwater
because they melt along the way and there have been studies done
from different scientists to try to understand how long would it
take to tow big icebergs to the populated region and they melt
significantly over time and we can't do that.
The freshwater supply from Antarctica goes into the ocean and we
don't get to use it at all.
Just be careful about making a at the same time like that.
I think the proposal has great merits to it and it will be worth
monitoring this region over time.
>> Thank you, Ginny.
Bob, do you have additional feedback regarding Collin's proposal?
Like Ginny, I really enjoyed this proposal in particular.
I think it stood out amongst the crowd because it showed a lot
of independent thinking and as Ginny indicated some statements
that were made that can be turned into hypotheses to try to see
if some of these ideas in the proposal were, in fact, true.
He also connected it to global warming, which is an important connection
Another part of this proposal that I really liked was the fact
that he went out and got extra information.
Information that certainly was not on the LIMA website but he found
information that gave some average speeds of icebergs and let's
see, some other information about at what temperature sea water
So going out and getting that extra information that's relevant
to their thinking about -- or his thinking about this particular
area showed a lot of independence, I think, that I would want to
pat him on the back for.
It's also one of my favorite areas.
It visually is very striking but it forces one to think about well
how did those big icebergs get out there in the middle of the fast
There must have been some changes, a different situation when those
icebergs were released by the glacier.
It doesn't look like they pushed their way out into the fast ice
but they were out there and the fast ice formed around them.
This is a point that Ted made.
This may, in fact, be a process by which some of these ice shelves
actually form and so once again we have that time dimension that
comes in that to learn the most about these areas really does require
a set of images over time.
But as -- from a snapshot you can see situations like this that
lead to questions that you have and get the extra information to
help you refine that question and then you define a need for extra
information to answer that question.
This proposal has all those elements and so that was why I really
>> Thank you, Bob.
We're going to take a look at our third proposal.
This is from Mrs. Stoica's class, a 9th grade class coming from
a computer science classroom at the national high school in Romania.
We have at least ten students joining us today from this classroom.
So go ahead and take a look at their proposal and get some feedback
Tom, what do you have to say about this particular proposal?
is a great proposal.
I think they picked an important thing to study the Mount Takahe
volcano in Antarctica.
They did the exact same kinds of things that we hoped people would
They looked at the volcano and said what kind of deposits are here
and they compared them to deposits from icy volcanoes on other
parts of the Earth like Iceland and said what kind of rocks do
we get when a volcano erupts under ice and what's the shape of
That's really the kinds of things you can do with the land set
Bob brought up a good point that sometimes in a proposal what you
want to do is come up with a big picture question that you're trying
How are we going to advance what we know about Antarctica and about
volcanoes like this?
This proposal is on the right track.
What I would do to take it to the next level is to say okay, there
are a bunch of different ways that volcanoes are generated in the
There are volcanoes at hot spots like Hawaii and then there are
volcanoes in areas on the Earth where one plate on the Earth's
surface is being pushed underneath another one and we get volcanoes
that come up above them.
The third type is places where plates are getting pulled apart
like North America or Europe are getting pulled apart and there
is a crack in the middle of the Atlantic ocean that pops up in
The thing is, Mount Takahe is a funny volcano.
We don't know what formed them.
It's one of the big questions in research today.
One of the things that you guys might try to do is say okay, based
on the shape of Mount Takahe if we compare it to Hawaii or others
does it look like one of those?
It might tell us a little about what caused the volcano.
Other things you might want to look into if you want to push it,
there are a bunch of science papers written about the other volcanoes
in west Antarctica.
An exciting one that's covered by ice but looks like it may have
had under ice eruptions but didn't penetrate the surface.
Maybe you have hot water percolating around and bacteria and other
things can maybe live.
The last thing that I did want to say is that places like Mount
Takahe are also important because they give us a point of rock
sticking up through the ice.
Antarctica is covered with ice all over the place.
Any place where we can get to a piece of rock the important because
it tells us what things might be like under the ice and places
where we can mount scientific instruments.
This is a GPS antenna I'll show you later.
You can screw it into the rock and the rock doesn't move the way
the glaciers are flowing everywhere else.
A lot of other things to try with it.
>> Thank you, Tom.
Bob, do you have any additional feedback for the proposal number
>> Tom covered it pretty well.
I would only add that wow, this is Romania, this is -- I was promised
by the NASA Quest folks that they had international reach but
this -- I was really excited to get some responses from Romania.
I know we also have some from India.
That's -- that just made me feel so good.
And as Tom explained, the class here did an excellent job of again
pulling in some additional information, they posed the questions
right at the outset, three very good questions and I thought that
was an excellent, excellent way the start a proposal with what
is your question and they used analogies looking at volcanoes in
Iceland where landforms are well studied and so Tom gave some excellent
suggestions as to how they could follow up and learn even more.
Another really good proposal.
>> Thank you, Bob.
Well, we have another proposal from a different classroom belonging
to miss Stoica in Romania.
Her class 90, another computer science class at the national high
Ginny, what feedback can you offer on proposal number four?
thought this was an interesting proposal.
Their land set image that they show in the glacier is really beautiful.
It shows it in the center and the glacier sweeping right around
They ask a couple of interesting questions in their proposal including
some stuff about glacial geology and how did it get formed.
When did it get formed and they talk a little bit about biology
and perhaps there are some -- on that nunatak that maybe different
from other places.
I would encourage them to take it further and think about what
kind of questions they want to answer by going to this place or
looking at this place.
One thing I thought that was really interesting was their idea
about biology and species diversity.
There is a place called island bioology.
It's determined by the distance of that island from the main part
of the land.
And also the size of that island.
So they could go to this nunatak and look at the number of species
that are there and see how that relates to this theory and visit
some other nunataks.
I thought it was an interesting idea the look at diversity from
an nunatak perspective in Antarctica.
I don't think that's very well explored in Antarctica.
I thought that was great.
It would be interesting to know when the nunatak became uncovered
when the ice sheet left the area.
And so from a glacial biology perspective it was an interesting
proposal and Tom could probably talk more about that.
This is -- nunataks are some of our most important things in Antarctica.
When Ginny was alluding to.
If you can go and figure out when the nunatak was last covered
or uncovered by ice you can understand how the ice sheet grew and
how it melted.
It turns out looking at that history is one of the most important
things we have to do to predict how sea level might change if the
planet warms in the future.
What you guys might think about is if you zoom in as close as you
can to this nunatak, can you see any benchmarks in it that show
you when ice move overrode it?
This information to answer the questions has to be combined with
other kinds of geologic studies where people might go out and drill
a rock core into the nunatak and take it back to the lab and they
can do the interesting chemical tests where they can figure out
how long the rock has been exposed to sunlight.
It turns out -- just exposed on the surface of the Earth.
It turns out there are all these rays coming from the planet and
they hit the rock and make radioactive particles and we can figure
how long that rock has been above the ice.
Other things, nunataks are 98% of Antarctica is covered with ice
and we're really interested in what the continent is like underneath.
It used to be Antarctica was smashed up against Africa.
I don't know if you can see it on the globe over here but look
at Antarctica is now sitting at the pole.
Once upon a time it was moved up over -- it's hard to do this backward.
Up over here smashed up against Africa.
By going to places like this nunatak and studying the rocks, we
can figure out when that last time -- when that was when it occurred
and figure out what mountains may have existed.
One of the other things, too, what I was talking about before,
this is a GPS antenna and it is -- what this is, basically we go
and screw this thing into the rock.
It sits there very, very stable and satellites, the GPS satellites
in orbit, this picks up the signals and it can very, very precisely
measure where this antenna is and whether the rock is moving up
And believe it or not, that nunatak that you're looking at is actually
It is slowly rising probably about a centimeter a year.
And that's really important information because that tells us what
is going on in that part of the planet.
And in particular it looks like if ice has been melting, we're
losing weight and for that part of the continent is starting to
come up and why the nunataks are important for us to study.
For the next few years of the IPY we're going to every one of those
nunataks and putting out an antenna like this and the SEISMOMETER.
very interesting, Tom.
Let's move on to our fifth proposal from Mrs. Davis's class, a
science class at shamrock middle school in Decatur, Georgia.
What do you think about this proposal, Tom?
>> This is interesting
and you guys have keyed onto one of the most important questions
in Earth science.
How are the ice -- how do the ice shelves behave?
What is their history?
What is going to happen as the planet warms up?
Are they going to decay?
It's very, very important.
The ice shelves work to hold back the glaciers that are on the
If we lose those ice shelves the glaciers and it could cause the
sea level to rise as it goes into the oceans and melts.
Ted Scambos, who couldn't be here today, is the world expert on
the Larsen Ice Shelf.
When I was looking through your proposal I could tell what you
were interested in is how the ice shelf formed.
One of the big questions, though, is also what caused it to fall
Some of the work that Ted has been looking at is -- I don't know
if you can see this if you zoom in on the land set data but there
are stripes in the ice shelf where pieces from different glaciers
come together and they continue out and you can see those.
And what Ted has speculated is that when the ice shelf broke up,
it broke up along those areas where the glaciers have come together.
The ice shelf didn't exist long enough for it to get really welded
together and stuck together.
Other things, too, during the I.P.Y. we're having a big project
of the ice shelves.
Bob is one of the principal investigators.
Did you want to add anything else on this proposal?
>> I will.
Keep going, Tom.
So again, researching this part of the world is one of the most
I would say the one thing that I did wonder about, you talked about
in the proposal you guys talked about what started the ice shelf,
And one of the things to consider is that we have ice on land.
When it hits the ocean it begins to float.
And it begins to float outward until it hits something, maybe an
island that holds it in place.
If you are going to further this study at all that's the thing
to do is look in that part of the world and see where those islands
are and see if you can backtrack back to a picture of how this
ice shelf formed and what it is going to do in the future.
Do you have any comments along to what Tom just said?
I'll chime in here, too.
I think what was missing from this proposal was a clear question
or a clear hypothesis but I love the subject because as Tom pointed
out, this is a real hot topic in glacialology right now and he's
Ted is on top of this and really the leading scientist looking
at ice shelf disintegration, we call it.
We call it disintegration because it happens so fast.
Tom mentioned that in the imagery you can see these streaks that
help identify where the ice came from out there.
There are a lot of glaciers that come off of the central spine
of the Antarctica peninsula and flow out into the ocean and help
form these ice shelves.
And you can see which ice came from which glacier by looking at
those streak lines.
The other thing you can see in the imagery are darker areas that
are deep blue when you look at them in true color.
We think that water is the primary agent by which these ice shelves
The basic idea is that in a very warm summer you have a lot of
water on the surface of the ice shelf and tiny cracks get filled
Water is heavier than ice and it essentially drives that crack
all the way through the ice shelf and it chops it up into tall,
The next picture we see with imagery are these big tall icebergs
flopped over on their sides.
That's why it looks like a ice shelf just explodes and goes out
into the ocean.
It is quite a dramatic series of images that have been used again
and again to illustrate this process of ice shelf disintegration.
So this class is on to that topic and I think they can find in
Actually some fairly readable papers in science and nature that
describe some of these processes in a bit more detail and I hope
they're interested enough to go back and take a crack at some of
those because it is truly an interesting topic that looks -- that
is very easily seen in the LIMA imagery.
>> Thank you, Bob.
The next proposal that we've chosen to review is from Isabelle
at Morrissey homeschool.
Share your thoughts of Isabelle's proposal?
>> It was an interesting
proposal to look at the flats, they're called, in the Antarctica
Isabelle is interested in the flats because they may be good places
to drill ice cores, there is a great description about what ice
cores can tell us about the Earth's past climate history and trying
to understand the past in order to predict what might happen into
So she gives a great description about that and why she in particular
picked this one location Abernethy Flats because it's located near
water, which might give us a wider range of weather patterns.
So I thought she did a great job on the background there.
The other thing that you might want to consider is just what kinds
of experiments or measurements that you might do to ensure that
you're going to get a great ice core.
There are some great things you might want to do from satellite
imagery but also you might want to think about things that you
could do on the ground.
And if you're looking at the picture that I sent in of my slide,
there is that picture in the upper right of radar layers and what
that is is internal layers in the ice sheet.
You want to drill an ice core where the inner layers are well preserved.
It means the ice hasn't been moving around quickly or an uncontrolled
way in the past.
You want to drill an ice core where the layers are relatively uniform
and you won't know that from a satellite image but you might want
to look for a place in a satellite image where the flow patterns
of the ice are in such a way that the layers will be well preserved
and you can go there with a radar like you see in the picture I'm
showing with my slide and you could survey the area and confirm
that the layers are nice and uniform.
That's one thing to think about.
Another thing to think about is the location you want to drill.
I know that you mentioned that you're interested in going near
Which is a great point to make but you might also want to think
about, you know, how much does it snow here, how thick will the
layers be that we're going to core.
Those kinds of things.
So the local weather patterns will also affect your ice core and
so you might want to study that in a little bit more detail to
see if this is really the exact right place for you to go drilling
All in all I thought it was an interesting proposal.
Ice cores are critical for us to understand the past history of
the ice sheet and climate in this region so that we can make better
predictions about how the ice sheets might change in the future.
All in all it was a really great idea.
>> Thank you, Ginny.
Tom, I believe you also reviewed Isabelle's proposal.
What comments do you have?
>> Isabelle, you stumped me right
When I saw Abernethy Flats I had to Google it and find it myself
and I said it's on James Ross island.
I was intrigued by your idea about maybe finding other things in
the ice core.
Now, I don't think that you would find insects in the ice core
because probably by the time you had that much ice forming, you
probably wouldn't have insects left.
But you are on exactly the right track.
The thing is, what we do around Antarctica is we go to places that
are underneath the ice where we -- places like the dry valleys
in Antarctica which if any of you guys have time look at the land
set mosaic and look at the dry valleys where we have rock still
exposed we can find the last remnants of the last insects that
existed on Antarctica.
It is looking like they died out 10 million years ago.
That record is one of our most important pieces of information
about how climate has changed on the Earth.
In this part of Antarctica not far from where you picked, if you
go back 40 million years ago you find sharks and rays lived in
Antarctica was sub tropical at that time.
If you go back further in time and Isabelle, I brought a surprise
Man, I don't know if you can guys can see this that well.
Can you guys see that?
Here is a picture of the Loch Ness monster, that's what this is
This is the tail would have been this way, the head.
They didn't recover the head over here.
This is a baby.
It would have been like 18 feet long and an adult would have been
like 30 feet.
65 million years old and this is one of the best places on the
world to study the extinction event.
The time when all the dinosaurs died out.
There is a lot about this on wick pedia and other websites.
seem to have had a little technical glitch here and I hope you're
receiving video fine.
I wanted to accentuate the fact that Isabelle is online now watching
and listening to your review and she had a question that she posted
in the chatroom earlier on that said have any of you been to any
of the sites or places written about in the proposals?
haven't had my chance to comment on Isabelle's proposal.
Let me do that.
The answer to her question is I have not been to Abernethy Flats
because I had no idea where it was, just like Tom.
I was completely stumped.
I had to find out where it was.
>> Me, too.
>> And I
think what struck me about her proposal was she showed sort of
a different use of LIMA imagery.
Now she's using it to help her in her interest in ice cores and
look for a place to drill in the ice core.
I think that's great.
As Tom had already said that's how LIMA imagery is being used by
a lot of scientists who have their questions formulated but are
trying to see if the LIMA imagery can help them identify where
to go to answer those questions and in most cases they are.
Another good thing about Isabelle's proposal in my mind was that
she looked at some of the other complimentary datasets.
That slide that we put up there to represent her proposal showing
where Abernethy Flats is, that's not a land set image that's a
radar set image.
She used one of the other capabilities that we built into the website
to look at other datasets that are co-registered right on -- located
exactly the same way as imagery -- as LIMA imagery so you can go
from one to the other and compare.
And I'll also compliment her because I asked myself why didn't
she show the LIMA image?
I looked at it and it isn't very good quality there.
I'm not sure why but we're going back to find out how to make the
LIMA imagery of Abernethy Flats.
Thank you for doing that.
I would have to look at all these areas.
I don't think I've been to any of the ones that have been focused
on by the research projects.
Antarctica is a pretty big place.
Can't be everywhere.
>> You guys picked some pretty remote
corners, but I've been to the Larsen Ice Shelf area.
thank you, Isabelle.
We sparked some great interest in our scientists here today.
We'll take a look at one final proposal that comes from India.
I'll open it up to the scientists like to make comments on the
final proposal we're going to review today?
>> I was just
going to say a couple of things.
I got the impression.
I got the impression he didn't get a chance to complete it but
it seemed like what he wanted to do was to use the LIMA imagery
to maybe create a video flyover over Antarctica.
I wanted to say that's a great idea.
It turns out a lot of scientists are starting to use flyovers to
interpret their own data and for educational and outreach purposes.
We see them in the movies and things but we're now getting to the
point with things like LIMA and with other kinds of remote sensing
data and also with top graphic data.
We're blending everything together and it is giving scientists
a chance to see their data in three dimensions.
To give you an example there are some scientists using a combination
of LIMA and aerial photography and looking at it on a top graphic
model were looking at it and looking at Mars were able to make
predictions of where you might find ice buried on Mars and it will
play a big role in our targets when we explore Mars.
The direction he's going in is the direction we're moving in scientifically
>> I'll pick up on one point.
>> Do you have
any comments to make on this final proposal?
>> I'll pick
up on one point Tom made.
All he said was correct and good and good feedback to the group
in India who put this together.
I'm thrilled that we had some submission from India.
Speaking from NASA, we just had a new instrument land, a space
probe land on Mars, the Phoenix lander, and the people who were
studying what type of environment they wanted to study on Mars
have worked in Antarctica in the dry valleys very close to Mcmurdo.
Antarctica has that kind of utility for Earth science and space
science as well.
So it's -- there are still more and more places in Antarctica to
study and use them both for understanding that continent as well
as to compare with other places on this planet and elsewhere.
Ginny, would you like to make any final comments before we move
on to the Q and A session?
>> A lot of times when you combine
datasets like this, as Tom said and also do -- show the datasets
in a new way either through some sort of video or, you know,
any kind of illustration that allows you to look at data in a
new way we often discover a lot of different things we wouldn't
have seen otherwise.
I think it's great to think about other ways to visualize the data.
I thought that was really great.
>> Thank you, Ginny.
We would like to thank the students who have submitted these proposals
that we reviewed today.
For those classs who are still working on their final proposal
you're welcome to send them in and we'll post them on the website
and now we're going to move on to our Q and A session.
We ask that you keep your questions relevant to the LIMA challenge
and I know we already have several that have been submitted.
Linda, what is our first question?
We've had several.
I think people are having so much fun with the presentations here
and listening about their proposals that we haven't gotten a lot
But let's start out with Jeremy who asks, what types of reasons
are good ones for research in Antarctica?
>> I could think
of a whole bunch.
One of the things is that Antarctica, one of the biggest challenges
facing humanity is the planet warming up and if the planet warms
up, what is it going to be like?
Antarctica is one of the most important places to answer those
First because the ice records give us a really important record
of climate change.
Second because if the ice in Antarctica melts, it is one of the
most important things to affect sea level.
It's really important for us to understand what is going on in
The other thing, too, geologically Antarctica is a continent and
it is the least explored continent of Earth.
The way things like Earth science move forward is we go to Antarctica
and discover a new fossil or discover how the mountain range works
and it tells us about the rest of the planet.
Another thing to consider is Antarctica is an interesting vantage
South pole station we have a lot of astronomical instruments.
One of the best places to study stars and the sky for a bunch of
reasons, most importantly the air is clear, elevation is high.
We get a good picture.
Also the planet doesn't spin very fast down there so you can put
a telescope on an object and it doesn't move away very quickly.
For studies on the inside of the Earth.
If we have an earthquake in Alaska the earthquake waves actually
travel -- Antarctica is here, Alaska is here.
That stuff goes all the way through the globe and pops out in Antarctica
and tells us what the Earth's inner core.
There are interesting reasons to do things in Antarctica about
Antarctica and to look at other places.
>> That's great.
We have a question from Johnny -- Jimmy, I'm sorry, who is online
His question is does the ice move more or less during the months
when the Sun is out more throughout the longer Sun months?
It doesn't move any faster or slower in Antarctica.
We think, although we've been surprised and now that we have GPS
technologies Tom showed an antenna, sometimes we have preconceived
notions of what does and doesn't happen because we're limited in
what we can measure and how accurately we can measure it.
GPS has been a perfect example of once we started to measure some
of the very big outlet glaciers we call them ice streams in some
cases, discharging, leaving the continent flowing into ice shelves
and back into the ocean.
Measuring them on short time scales as the tides go up and down
the velocity and the speed of the ice streams changes not just
a little bit but a lot.
And that has really astonished us and led to new questions and
It is not so much what season it is but whether we have a high
tied or a low tide in that case.
Very surprising results.
>> The other thing I want to add.
That's a great question.
For Greenland it is true the ice will speed up in the summertime
and there is a lot of research that is focused on that right now
and it is possibly something to look for in Antarctica in the future
as the climate keeps warming.
Bob is right.
Currently we don't see any seasonal patterns in ice velocity.
thank you very much.
Della asks, what the LIMA images made it easier for scientists
to do research or locate areas that might be good to study?
prompted me to ask some new questions.
We've seen some things in the LIMA imagery that we don't understand.
In our case it was trying to make the images match so when we put
them down next to each other we wouldn't see the boundaries between
We thought we knew how to process those images.
In some places we've seen different character of snow that didn't
fit our mathematical model we were using.
So that prompted some scientific questions that I haven't got around
to addressing in my own research, but there are different types
of snow around Antarctica.
That is just one example of a new question that was -- that came
to my mind as a result of looking at the imagery and I'm sure Tom
and Jenny have others as well.
Mrs. frost's class asks do we know why the Mesa mountains have
remained ice and snow free and another question asked, can we explain
why there are no snow on the dry valleys even though it's on Antarctica?
a good one.
Bob, would any of you guys -- you want me to handle the one on
the dry valleys why there is no snow?
to bare rock.
That's your domain.
>> Some of these questions have controversial
answers and people from different fields -- these are really good
You're asking some of the big research questions we're working
The dry valleys have a complicated glacial history and were probably
carved by glaciers but other times were FJORDS.
The back end forced up.
Forces from deep within the Earth that pushed up the back part
of the valleys and forced the ice away from running through the
valleys anymore and why they're still ice free.
Antarctica is still pretty much a desert.
There is very little precipitation in the dry valleys.
Just last year when I was there there was a lot of snow.
The dry valleys had snow.
Rather than melt, that snow either evaporates away the way that
ice cubes will evaporate away or it blows away.
I'm sure Ginny has other things to add, though.
What happens in the dry valleys it's true, the ice doesn't melt
away, it subly mates.
You need a lot of snow to build up over time so that it -- some
amount of it can go away but not all of it does and the dry valleys
would be covered with snow and eventually you might get a glacier
That's not happening there now.
There is a negative loss of ice that is happening in that region.
I'm watching the clock move toward our closing time but I wanted
to ask one more question and before I do I will assure the classrooms
who are here, if you get off the air and go oh, I wish I had asked,
go ahead and put it in the chatroom and I'll submit it to our scientists
and see if we can get an answer for you by the end of the day today
or the end of this week.
The last question we'll handle is from Mrs. froth's class.
Haven't satellites taken pictures of Antarctica before?
do have a long record of satellite imagery of Antarctica and has
been very instrumental in studying the continent and looking at
Where I think LIMA really changes and elevates our knowledge about
Antarctica is that we've been able to mosaic over 1,000 images
together so people can go wherever they want.
It used to be looking at satellite data was a pretty specialized
You had to know what you were doing.
Only a few -- a limited number of scientists actually used the
Those that were less familiar would ask us for help in analyzing
We wanted to do most of that work behind the scenes so that it
is more accessible for any scientist and now in addition to that,
not just accessible to any scientist who wants to use these data
but the public who wants to see what Antarctica looks like.
We want to bring Antarctica to the public and allow them to become
more familiar with it.
It had enormous success in all those regards.
Success that what I thought was far beyond reasonable to expect.
And by allowing scientists to have access to this imagery, we have
expanded the community that is using the satellite imagery.
It is not a specialized field anymore.
We were thrilled when one of the virtual globe -- I'll say it,
Google Earth has incorporated LIMA as their default layer.
Now it's very easy to access this particular image dataset.
It is a snapshot.
As I said before, but I think it opens the door for subsequent
repeat coverages of Antarctica so that we can see changes in true
color at high resolution with data that are far more accessible.
a scientist that doesn't use satellite images primarily.
As a passive observer I kind of see satellite imagery as sort of
There is a lot of great things we can discover about how new ideas
and new processes about how ice works by looking at these large-scale
mosaics of Antarctica and getting a pick you are of what the ice
sheet looks like and able to refine our ideas about how ice works
and make better predictions on how the ice might change in the
These image products are valuable to help constrain our ideas and
theories about ice dynamics as well as many other things outside
It's revolutionized the field and LIMA ends a new dimension to
that as a visible spectrum.
>> To add one other thing.
This is an excellent question and the kind of question we deal
with all the time like well, is this really going to advance
As Bob and Ginny pointed out, very few scientists, let's say there
are 500 scientists from the U.S. working in Antarctica right now.
We're talking only 10 to 30 of those people are people that know
a lot about satellite imagery.
To all of the rest of them it was difficult to find the image they
might use but let's say you were a biologist studying tiny worms,
microscopic worms that live in the soil.
>> If you would like
to continue, press star 1 now.
Or the conference will be terminated.
>> That's Ginny.
That's Ginny signing off.
What happens is those biologists can say I find these kinds of
worms in this area.
I never thought about looking five mountains down the mountain
Maybe they're there or different.
Maybe the soil types are different and there are a bunch of different
science questions they could ask.
That's what is happening now.
LIMA has been released about a year now, Bob.
It's been out?
>> Six months.
End of November.
>> Six months.
So there has been -- people are just starting to figure out how
to use it.
>> Okay, thank you, Tom.
This concludes our Q and A session of the webcast.
Any questions that were not answered again like Linda said, we
will send those out to the scientists or send questions in before
the end of today we'll get them answered and posted maybe next
Before we move on, I would like to encourage each of you to revisit
the educator guide and do further exploration for Antarctica.
In the back of the guide we've listed several resources that you
can visit and gain more information and you can also certainly
Google things and find more information on your own.
We'd also like to wrap up this webcast by reviewing the key objectives
that hopefully you learned over the past couple of months.
In regard to Antarctica geographically it's the southern most continent
in our globe and it has one of the coldest, driest and windiest
climates on our planet.
As far as geographic features go it has mountains, volcanoes, certainly
It also has lakes.
Hopefully you've learned that ice has many different forms and
you've study many of those forms over the past couple of months
and we've addressed several of those today in our webcast.
These formations are the result of geologic processes.
We have weather, we have seasonal changes, climate changes, all
sorts of forces are affecting Antarctica and continue to do so.
We've learned that scientists can use satellite imagery as one
way to study that continent and then we have also mentioned some
other methods of studying it.
Hopefully you've learned by working with your class and your team
that teamwork is very important.
We have four of our scientists who you've heard from today who
certainly work together and by working together, they can learn
more and more information in their different areas of expertise.
That concludes the majority of our webcast.
I think Linda would like to add a couple of comments before we
I just wanted to thank a great deal our guest scientists here today
answering questions and reviewing your reports.
Also none of this happens without our behind the scenes folks here
at Ames we have Greg in the booth and for the webcasting, we want
to thank Shane and Bill Michael at NSF.
There he is waving at you, great.
>> Tom, any final comments that you would like
to make before we sign off today?
>> I do.
I just want to say I was extremely impressed with all the proposals
and what I'm amazed at is you guys identified.
Questions about how do people use the maps?
These are the key questions we ask and I think you're all on the
right track and I hope you go on to have great careers in science.
Bob, would you like to make any final comments or observations
before we sign off?
>> Yes, I would.
I, too, want to thank people for all their hard work in putting
this together and for the teachers and students who put time
into trying to address this challenge.
I think the questions that they came up with and the ideas and
the -- were all very excellent and I hope that sparks their interest
in continuing to study in science.
I'll only say as a final comment is that LIMA will be back with
another challenge in the fall.
I think we can make it even better.
I would like to like to hear ideas from teachers how to make it
better for their use and I also have some ideas about wanting to
challenge the students to look at more of Antarctica.
It is one heck of a big continent and looking for similarities
and differences between different features is maybe a track that
we'll focus on.
So we'll be back but thank you for all that has been provided in
>> Thank you, Bob and as a reminder to our
teachers and students who are in our audience today, I would like
to encourage you to go to the website and sign on and respond to
We have one for our teachers and we have a separate survey for
These are very important to our challenge process.
We use the data to plan our future challenges and to acquire more
funding and we also like to see how effective our challenges are
by assessing student learning and student interest and as well
as just the logistics and enjoyment from the teacher's perspective.
I encourage all students and teachers to take the surveys.
It will pay off in the end as our future challenges are planned.
Thank you again to everyone for attending today.
It has been a real pleasure reading your proposals and hearing
from our scientists and we hope we can all join together as a team
again in the future.