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Welcome to the Webcast for the Lima Quest Challenge
Wednesday October 1, 2008 @ 10:00 a.m. Pacific
1:00 p.m. Eastern, 1700 GMT
See more information on the Challenge
Get to know your participating scientists by reading their bios

photo of dressing for the cold -- intro to ppt
Ginny Catania's Slides
Institute for Geophysics
University of Texas

photo link to Bob Bindschadler's power point slides
Bob Bindschadler's Slides
NASA, Chief Scientist

Suggested sites to help get you started:

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>> Welcome to the LIMA Quest challenge.
Today we're going to listen to some scientists talk about the LIMA project.
The purpose of this webcast is to learn more about the mystery sites featured on the LIMA website and give you a chance to ask some questions to these experts with LIMA imagery that's interesting to you.
My name is Rebecca green.
I'm at the NASA Ames Research Center in northern California.
I'm here with Linda Conrad today.
Today Linda will be fielding your questions.
Tell us a little about yourself.

>> I've met most of the people already because I've sent them little correspondence.
But I have the fun time of putting these kind of things together for you.
And I will be looking forward to questions in the chatroom.
Please be very appropriate with them.
We have lots of people right now in the chatroom.
We would love to see questions about Antarctica and this imagery that we're talking about and maybe some of the help you need to get started on your projects.
I will be pulling questions out of chatroom.
I may interrupt occasionally but most of it will be handled in a Q and A session near the end.

>> Let's begin by meeting some of our scientists.
Coming to us from various parts of the country through videoconference and over the phone.
We'll learn a little bit about them and how the LIMA imagery is helping them do their work.
We'll start with Robert Bindschadler the chief scientist in green belt, Maryland.
Tell us a little about yourself, what led you to work with the LIMA imagery and how it's helping you.

>> I sure will.
Thanks a lot, Rebecca.
I'm very pleased to be part of this panel of experts and part of this Quest Challenge.
I'm a glacial olist.
I study ice.
I want to tell all the students that when I was their age I had no idea I would end up being a glacial oh gist.
I love to climb mountains and hike in the mountains.
That led me to be interested in glaciers.
That led me to larger glaciers and now I have the privilege and the joy of working on the biggest block of ice on the planet, Antarctica.
And I've been there 15 times with different field teams and what I study down there is how fast the ice is moving.
The reason we're interested in that is that how fast the ice moves determines the shape of the ice sheet and the size of the ice sheet.
As the size of the ice sheet changes, sea level goes up and down and that affects people all around the world.
It really is a global issue that we deal with in Antarctica.
Certainly with warmer climates we know the ice sheets are sinking and sea level the going up.
We're trying to answer how much, how fast.
That's really important.
A lot of the work we do in Antarctica, I think I have a slide here that shows Antarctica.
And every time I go down there, I'm reminded of what a wonderful place it is, what an interesting place and exciting place to work but how small I am relative to how big Antarctica is.
I mean, Antarctica is huge.
It is larger than the United States.
And that's one reason this satellite data are so important for our research.
It gives us the big picture.
Something like the land sat mosaic not only gives us the big picture but allows us to zoom in and see fine detail that is so important to giving us clues as to where the ice is going fast, where it's safe to work and also other things that some of the other scientists will be talking about that help us in our research.
But it also is part of our research because we can measure the speed of the ice directly from satellite imagery.
The land sat imagery has a lot of uses for the time of research I do.
And I can go on and on about that but I dare not.
I want to pass the video baton to my colleague at national science foundation Tom Wagner.

>> Hi, everybody.
Welcome to the webcast.
I don't see my face on the screen but I assume you can all hear me.
Is it going okay?

>> We're good.
We can see you.

>> I'm going to keep talking then.
So, you know, like Bob, when I was a kid I was into science.
Not so much the mountain climbing but I loved chemistry and physics and all that stuff.
When I went to college I realized I wasn't to do science but I wanted to get outside.
I started to get more interested in the Earth on how it works.
I settled on volcanoes eventually and I worked in new New Guinea for a while.
Then I got a job where I worked today.
My job is hearing about the projects people want to do in Antarctica and I help figure out which ones we're going to support.
The reason I got interested in LIMA was we realized scientists needed a better way to see things in Antarctica to plan their work and figure out where to go and what they were going to do there.
We worked with Bob and other scientists to get this mosaic together.
I'm looking forward to telling you some more about mystery mountains and hearing about your proposals down the road.
I'll turn over now to Ted?

>> We're going to go to Ginny Catania who is a research scientist at the University of Texas with Austin's institute of geo physics.
Tell us a little about yourself, what led you to study Antarctica and how the LIMA imagery is important to the work you development

>> Can everybody see me okay?

>> Yes, you're good.

>> I had a very similar background to Bob in that I was really interested in being outside in the mountains and my first trip was to Switzerland to study glaciers there and that's where I got completely addicted by being in the field.
And I kept going into the field and studying Alpine glaciers and eventually got really interested in Antarctica because the science there is so important and it is so -- such a big scale.
And satellite imagery to me has really revolutionized our field because in the last ten years we've had a lot more availability of satellite imagery and a lot more frequent satellite images and so we're able to see the rates of change of the ice sheets over time.
And by seeing this, we're able to observe really fast rates of change that we wouldn't have been able to observe other ways.
And so this has really changed our field and it has been exciting to witness it from my perspective as a newcomer coming into this field.
I have some pictures here, too, I don't know if you guys can see them.
These are pictures of me getting dressed for the field to go to Antarctica.
You need to have a lot of warm clothes because it gets pretty cold there.
And this is another picture of the kind of work that I do.
I collect the ice penetrating radar data that you can see in the lower right-hand side here.
It gives us a cross section of what the ice sheet looks like.
The way I collect it is going into the field we need to have satellite images to tell us where to go in the field so we're safe in how we drive around on the ice sheet but also to help us plan what kind of features we're interested in looking at.
What areas show big rates of change and what kind of problems do we want to really answer?
Satellite imagery helps to guide my work and I'm starting to get more and more interested in satellite data because of the plethora of data out there.
There is more data out there that is more easy to obtain than there is field data.
It is harder to get funding to go into the field.
So I'm starting to get more and more interested in satellite data and it has been a really enjoyable thing for me.
That's all I have.

>> Thank you, Ginny.
Do we have Ted Scambos on the phone?
He is a glaciologist.
He along with Ken Jezek a professor of Ohio State University are also part of the LIMA project.
Ted will be joining us later on web khats or in the final webcast.
So let's check one more time.
Do we have Ted on the phone?
Well, let's go ahead and talk about what this challenge is all about.
As Earth scientists you and your group are going to study some images that are provided through the LIMA project.
You're going to identify a specific ice feature that is of particular interest to you and you're going to submit a proposal to these scientists you're hearing from today.
In your proposal you'll do two things.
First you will talk about the geologic feature, why it's interesting to you and why you would like to study it further.
And then second, you're going to give your opinions as to what processes you think are happening to cause that feature.
We hope that you've already toured some of the LIMA website and certainly there is an educator guide that we have available to you to help guide you through the process and show you how to explore that website.
We're particularly going to be looking at some of the mystery sites.
So let's take a look at that slide.
We have these mystery sites.
The scientists with us today, Tom and Ginny and Bob are going to be talking about some of these sites that you see up on the screen.
As far as the submissions, we're looking for very interesting submissions from you.
We want something that is unique and possibly that we haven't even noticed ourselves.
If you select a site that is scientifically significant, then we may actually add it to these group of mystery sites that you see on the screen.
So that is certainly a goal that you can aim for.
So we know there is science in every piece of Antarctica and during the challenge you'll be finding a spot on the continent that interests you.
Today in this webcast we're going to help you understand the type of submission that we're looking for and we're going to talk about these mystery sites that have already been identified.
So let's start with Tom.
Tom, can you tell us about volcanoes and mountains on Antarctica and why they intrigue you?

>> Yes, I can.
For a whole bunch of reasons.
Can you guys -- is my first slide up?

>> Yes.

>> It is, great.
If you look at this slide, there are all different kinds of mountains in Antarctica and there are some mountains that are formed by tectonic forces that push things up and others formed by glaciers and some mountains are just volcanoes.
You can see all of them in this figure.
Let's go to the next one.
Sorry, this is the one here that shows you, this is a picture of Antarctica with all the ice lifted off.
While you might have thought Antarctica is flat, it's not.
Those are mountains and volcanoes and valleys.
Let's go to the next slide.
Our mystery volcano was mount TAKAHI.
They're important to us for two reasons.
They tell us about -- because magma comes from great depth in the Earth it tells us the characteristics of the deep Earth and it is important to understand about the geologic history about Antarctica and they help us understand global climate change.
Let's go to the next slide.
When a volcano erupts say like Mount St. Helens it throws a lot of dust in the atmosphere and the dust falls down.
In Antarctica it puts a layer on the ice and it gets buried and incorporated into the ice.

>> Can I interrupt you for a second here?

>> Sure.

>> I believe we need Ginny to mute her slides.
They are showing up in the corner.

>> A glaciologist trying to steel all the thunder.

>> Excellent, it's all fixed.

>> Okay.
Continue with your discussion.

>> Yeah, sure.
This is a cartoon that shows a volcano erupting in Antarctica and how it develops a layer of volcanic ash all over the ice.
Let's go to the next slide.
And this is what it looks like if you go and chain saw out a block of ice you can see a layer of volcanic ash in it.
This turns out to be really important to us.
Next slide.
One of the most important ways that we understand how the Earth's climate has changed and how it was warmed and cooled in the past and how it might warm and cool in the future is through ice course.
Every year in Antarctica a little bit of snow builds up.
Every year we get another layer and we drill through it and we get a tube of ice.
We can go to the individual layers to figure out what the Earth was like at the time that they formed.
In Antarctica now we've gone all the way back a million years.
How do we know it's a million years?
It's tough to do.
If you're only going back a few thousand years you can count the layers you see in the ice core.
Sometimes they get cut off.
Maybe there was melting or something and this is where the volcanic ash comes in.
If you find a layer of volcanic ash you can use chemical techniques to date it.
This is a way for us to date the deep parts of the ice core.
Let's go to the next slide.
Also, too, as you might think, volcanoes can be pretty hot, right?
A lot of people are surprised that Antarctica is cold.
How can there be hot volcanoes?
We get liquid water underneath the ice.
This is what happens when you take off the ice.
There is water.
There are sub glacial lakes.
You can read more about them and you can use LIMA to show how it flows underneath the ice sheet and modeling what the ice is going to do in the future in a warming world.
Let's go to the next slide.
Those other mountains are really important.
They tell us two things.
They can tell us about Antarctica's geologic history and glacial history.
Let's go to the next slide.
The mountains of Antarctica get shaped by the rivers of flowing ice.
That's a big one.
To put that in scale some of those mountains are 14,000 feet tall.
You can even have a glacier scour in and dig up -- what we can do is go out and use local topography to try to understand what the glaciers were like in the past.
Like in this case you can see once upon a time the ice was probably a lot higher and overrode all the mountains.
Now the ice is lower.
Also, too, you can see blue ice which hints that there has been some melting.
Next slide.
Now in that mystery slide there was a black rock that looks like this rock right here called basalt.
It tells us a lot about the geologic history of Antarctica.
Next slide.
Now, today all the plates are spread around the world, right?
Next slide.
200 million years ago all the continents were smashed together and you can see Antarctica down in the lower right-hand corner.
What would happen was there was a super volcano that popped up between Antarctica and Africa and literally broke them apart and sent magma squirting throughout the rocks in Antarctica.
On the mystery slide that black rock in that image is the remnants of that super volcano.
Next slide.
Going back 200 million years the other thing we had were dinosaurs.
I have my friend here to tell you about later.
Other things you can do with LIMA and the mountains we find fossils but the surfaces are important themselves.
In this case here what we can see is there are glaciers that are covered over with a soil layer and this is really important for people trying to understand Mars because they want to know where they might find life on Mars or where they might find ice.
A lot of times where we have ice we have a little water and we can have life there.
People are using imagery like this and LIMA imagery to try to understand and get -- I'll keep talking.
That last shot I showed you is from the dry valleys in Antarctica, the largest ice-free area in Antarctica.
If you look on the web and if you look around the LIMA site you can see this.
This area is important because it's got some of the most primitive life on Earth but also lakes.
The next slide.
Here is a picture of one of those lakes called Don Juan pond.
This lake even in the middle of winter has never been seen to be frozen over even at minus 50 degrees.
Next slide.
Just a couple of suggestions for you and we'll talk about this more at the en.
In terms of using LIMA for your proposal.
Find your favorite feature.
Have fun with it and poke around LIMA and look around and see what catches your interest but also read about that feature a little bit, right?
See how can it -- what is the research question that you can ask about that feature and how can LIMA help you study it?
There are plenty of great resources on the web.
The LIMA website and one that's not listed on here called CRESIS.
You'll find plenty of information.
I'll close and turn it back over to Rebecca.

>> Thank you, Tom.
That was very interesting.
We're going to now transition to Ginny and she a going to tell us a little about glaciers and crevasses.

>> Okay.
The first picture I have if you guys can see it is one of the mystery features that comes from the LIMA website.
This is a picture of a glacier in the dry valleys.
The dry valleys I'll turn to my map behind me.
It's down in here.
And Tom actually if you look behind Tom, there is a map, really detailed map of the dry valleys on the wall behind his head.
But Taylor glacier occupies one of the valleys there.
You can see in the image that the ice wraps around and almost forms a circular flow pattern.
This is a really interesting image to me because number one, I think the scale is really interesting.
A lot of people think glaciers, you go to the mountains they may not be very big.
This glacier is huge.
If you look on this image I've put on scale which is 500 meters tall.
One of the tallest buildings in the world and I've scaled this tower on the image to match what the image scale is.
It's actually pretty small.
If you stack all these towers across the ice it measures 2 1/2 kilometers wide.
This is a really big glacier.
It is not like something that you would see in the continental U.S.
So the other interesting thing about this image is that you can see these nice lines on the ice that kind of form and they go around this block of rock right here.
And the cool thing to me is that you can actually tell what direction the ice is flowing from this image and how these streaked lines are formed.
If the ice was flowing in this direction around this bit of rock in the middle, you wouldn't get the same pattern that you see over here where these streak lines get deformed and pulled into the ice flow.
What that implies is that the ice is flowing around it this way and going down this valley.
That's also true because you can see as the ice comes up and over this bit of rock you get all these crevasses that form as it tries to get up there and fails.
This is a little bit of rock in the middle of the ice and it deforms the ice around it because it's a pretty resistant piece of rock.
This is a really interesting image to me and I think it would be neat to explore other ideas of what you might try to figure out from this image.
If you were to look at this, you know, what kind of questions would you answer like besides which direction is the ice flowing, like maybe how long has the ice been there, how would you try to figure that out?
Which ice is flowing faster and how would you try to figure that out?
Is it the ice that's flowing faster within this round valley or is it the ice that's flowing over here that is faster?
How would you try to figure that out.
That's what I would encourage you to do with the LIMA website.
This is another picture of the same area from an airplane.
You can see the top of the airplane at the top of the image up here to give you a sense of scale of what these big ice glaciers look like when you're out in the dry valleys.
On the lower part of the image is a picture of beacon valley.
A beautiful area in the dry valley.
The next image I have is a set of crevasses that we see on the ice sheet.
They are in a lot of places on the ice sheet.
These are located over here.
And this is a really fast-moving glacier that is forming and creating the crevasses and the glacier is over on this side and there is slow-moving ice on this side.
So you have this region where you have fast-moving ice next to slow-moving ice and it causes the crevasses to form.
I have with me a little bit of silly putty which a lot of people probably are familiar with.
It behaves a lot like ice does.
If you pull it quickly it breaks apart.
That's just what ice does.
If you pull ice quickly that's how you get the crevasses but you can pull silly putty very slowly and it will stretch and that's also like ice.
If you pull it really slowly it will tend to thin and it stays coherent and doesn't crack if you pull it really slowly.
If you pull it quickly that's when you get the crevasses forming.
The interesting thing about this image is again if you take the scale of this tower and put it on this image you can see the tower here is tiny and could fit almost into the huge crevasses.
Number one, these are very big crevasses and you wouldn't want to go anywhere near these except if you were maybe flying in an airplane.
The other interesting thing is that you can see that the shape of these crevasses are deformed.
That's because the ice is moving fast in this flow direction on the side here and it tends to shear the crevasses on one side more than the other and you get this shape to them.
The other thing that's really interesting is that on this side the crevasses are not sheared as much so they tend to not be very actively opening all the time.
So as the snow falls on the surface you can get a snow bridge.
You can end up closing the crevasse over time but you can also have, as you can see these little pockets.
These little holes where the snow bridges have failed just kind of randomly and so you want to be careful if you're planning to go into the field to study this a little bit more detail that you wouldn't want to go anywhere near these big crevasses.
Those are the two mystery images I've been really interested in.
So I would encourage you again, like Tom said, to go to the LIMA website and check out all the things that are there.
There is a huge amount of data that's there to look at.
You could spend hours pouring over the imagery in great detail.
Then try to figure out what is that image and what kind of information do you need to answer the question of what are you seeing in that image?
I encourage you to think about what you would do to study it in more detail.
Would you plan a field season.
What would that entail?
If you weren't going to plan a field season, would it be to look at other imagery besides LIMA to help you understand the LIMA data better or look at books to understand geology maybe or the books to look at what ice looks like in other regions just to compare?
So I would encourage you to get online and check out the LIMA website but the website Tom suggested and the other websites that have lots of great photos of glaciers and ice sheets as well.

>> Thank you, Ginny.
We appreciate your input.
And Bob, we would like to transition over to you and learn a little bit about some of the iceberg formations through the LIMA imagery.

>> All right, thank you very much, Rebecca.
I will share a secret that all these 17 mystery images that are on the LIMA website right now I found.
And I found them in about half an hour of panic trying to put this page together before I had to leave on a trip.
And I found it exactly the way that I hope a lot of the students are going to be finding them which is just scrolling around this huge dataset and looking for interesting things.
I thought I would just pick ten but I couldn't narrow it down to just ten.
Almost every place I scrolled I saw something interesting so it's really gratifying to hear so much science come out of each one of these.
Such as Ginny and Tom described.
One of the favorites I picked is this image of what I call a puffy marshmallow.
It was unusual to me and I've made some of these images seem unusual by cropping them the way I did and removing some of the context that can help explain what these are.
Just as one example, I think this serves as a good example.
If I go ahead and I just zoom out on this, to look at the region around this particular region, you can see where the sub image came from is still outlined in red.
We see in the upper right the coast of Antarctica.
That's the grounded ice sheet in the upper right and most of the images actually frozen ocean with a thin covering of sea ice.
We also see from the upper -- the top middle something labeled a land glacier.
This is a big glacier draining ice off the ice sheet into the ocean.
Ginny give a wonderful description about glaciers and ice flow.
This glacier is one of those that flows fast enough that it breaks.
The silly putty that is being stretched hard enough and quickly enough that it breaks but it is still held together by the mountains that it flows through and you can see those in the image as well.
Once it gets into the ocean and there is nothing holding it back, the little pieces of the glacier just spread out like little chicklets.
If people know about that kind of gum, I'm not endorsing any product.
They're not really little.
But that glacier just falls apart.
And these icebergs in this mystery image are part of that collection of icebergs.
The best photo I could find of what you might actually see if you were in that area is this one.
And it shows a number of icebergs just floating in the ocean and they are thicker.
They're higher because it's thick ice.
And around these icebergs is much thinner sea ice that's frozen ocean nowhere near as thick.
Only a few feet thick for the sea highs.
Hundreds of meters think for the icebergs.
The big difference there if you were to be in that area and see it.
What you don't get from either the image that I showed or this picture is an idea of the scale.
This is something that Ginny spoke about and I want to emphasize it, too.
I go back to one of my opening remarks.
Antarctica is just so big.
It's hard to really appreciate that.
Here is another a fairly small iceberg but at least this photograph includes an airplane for scale so you can get some idea of how big a small iceberg is.
But let me keep emphasizing that point by going back to this larger image and now what I've shown included on this slide is part -- a map of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. is this small yellow dot in the middle but around Washington, D.C. is this major highway we call the capitol beltway.
It's 25 miles from side to side.
What I'm going to do is circle that with this blue circle and then put the -- circle the same size on the land glacier.
What that says is the land glacier is big enough that if it were in Washington, D.C. it would not only cover the City of Washington, D.C., it would cover the whole area from one side of the beltway to the other.
To help people get a sense of how big these features are in Antarctica.
And just to come back to that mystery image, I go back to that mystery image on the right here and what I've done is taken another popular, familiar, geographic feature, the lower half of Manhattan island.
Same scale, these two images and what I want to emphasize here is again how big these little icebergs are.
Most of them would clog up the east river on the right side of Manhattan island there.
If you look at the Brooklyn bridge there, most of those icebergs wouldn't even fit underneath the Brooklyn bridge.
So again Antarctica is bigger than you can ever imagine.
And that's one thing that actually makes it interesting.
One final comment about icebergs, you have to remember that although you see something that's quite big, you are looking at literally the tip of the iceberg, which is only 10% of the full size of these icebergs.
90% of the features that are included in this particular image are contained underneath the surface of the ocean.
Antarctica is big.
That's the message.
And I think hopefully Linda has been flooded now with a lot of questions and we've piqued your appetite.
I hope the students led by their teachers will do what I did in that afternoon, scroll around Antarctica, poke through these websites.
Find interesting features.
There is a science story to tell about each one of those.
But those 17 are offlimits.
You have to find your own.

>> Well, thank you, Bob.
I want to thank Tom and Ginny and Bob for the explanations of the mystery sites, the images have been great in your comparisons to features here on our continent and to things like silly putty have been enlightening.
We're going to turn now to our audience and do some of the Q and A.
We're going to start with a few of the questions that we've received so far.
Linda, what do you have?

>> I did want to mention that we will put the Power Point slides that we've been playing up online so that you can have a look at them a little closer later after the show.
And this will also be archived for those of you who are having trouble connecting to the video.
However, you can still post your questions in the chatroom.
We just got one from -- let me see if I can pronounce this -- middle science from New York.
And they ask, we're looking for the area where the lake is located under the ice.
Is that one of the areas we could study?

>> The largest sub glacial lake is called VASTAFF.
I don't remember the coordinates right now.

>> It's in LIMA, yes.

>> Okay.
It's -- you know the coordinates.

>> I can show you on a map.

>> You don't need to do that.
You can go to the LIMA website and there is a link called find a feature and you go there and you type in lake VOSTOK.
And you query on that.
You'll get a description of the lake and then there is another link there, click on that and you'll be brought straight into LIMA centered on the lake and that will set you up as that is your starting point and you can zoom in and out and scroll around.
So the LIMA website allows you, if you know the name of the feature to go and see it.

>> Okay.

>> Can I throw something else out there for that one?

>> Sure.

>> Another thing to think about there are a couple of these other lakes.
They're is sub glacial lakes but other lakes around the land areas of the coast.
Can you use LIMA to answer any questions about those?
Their size, shapes, locations.
Find one that hasn't been found yet.
Things like that.

>> Speaking of one that hasn't been found yet, who is your friend?

>> This is Elvis.
Elvis wanted to make a couple of points.
Elvis likes ice but Elvis is also saying you know, climate change is one of the things that wiped out me and a lot of my friends over the year, right?
And he says look, you guys can spend a lot of time studying ice but I was found in Antarctica on a mountaintop that was unexposed.
I wonder, is it possible for you to use LIMA to look for things like me again?

>> That would be fun, actually.
We have another question from Idaho kid who says, how can you tell how deep and iceberg really goes?

>> A great question.
One of the best ways to do that is with imagery.
Landsat imagery is taken of a Sun lit surface so we know where the satellite is and what time it collects the image so we know where the Sun -- what the elevation of the Sun is.
And often we can measure the length of the shadow and that will tell us how much of the height of the ice above the water and then we multiply it times nine and we know how thick the ice is.
It's using the imagery and knowledge about the Sun location to determine the height of the ice above the water.
So some simple geometry there but it can be done and has been done.
Oftentimes we want to know exactly that.

>> Okay.
We have a couple of questions on the logistics of when, which seasons you go to Antarctica and how you get there.

>> We knew there would be some questions about that.
Because Ginny had that wonderful slide of her getting dressed we'll let her answer that.
We don't want to answer too many questions about the field work.
We want to sort of help people get their questions answered so they can satisfy this challenge that has been put to them.

>> Yeah.
Well, we go to Antarctica in the summer that happens in the northern hemisphere wintertime.
So typically you leave sometime in October and you can be there until February.
But the beauty of satellite imagery is that you can see Antarctica all the time as long as it's sunny and you're looking at visible imagery you can see Antarctica from your desk all the time and so it's actually -- you can go to Antarctica right now if you wanted to.
You have the luxury of doing that now.
In some way I think satellite imagery allows everybody to go there and allows us to go there a lot more frequently than we can physically do it.

>> Okay.
I think you folks are having to see us more often than they should.
We aren't being able to switch to Ginny.
I apologize for that.
Hopefully we'll get that settled here soon.
Another question here, do you find the most interesting features of Antarctica to be located in the interior or along the coast?

>> There are interesting features of Antarctica throughout the continent.
And I think if somebody goes to the LIMA website and starts scrolling around, you could answer that question yourself.
I think you will find that there are interesting things to see throughout the continent.
So I'll put that challenge back to you.
Go look and I bet you'll find interesting features all over the place.

>> Also don't forget to look at the peninsula that extends up toward South America.

>> Speaking of how to get there.
You try to get images from different times of year or only during the Sun lit months?

>> Ginny, did you want to answer that one?
I don't want to hog all the questions.

>> I mostly use visible satellite imagery so I do try to get data from just the summer times.
And I really like to look at change of the ice sheet.
So I want to have repeat images of the same area.
It is important to make sure there are no clouds in the image so you can actually see the ice or the rock below you.
So I want to get repeat images of the same area at different times during the year or different years and at different -- the same date but every year for maybe five years or so.
One of the things you could look at are seasonal changes.
Are there changes over the summertime?
Are there changes over many years due to global warming or due to natural variability?
And to me it's really important to be able to see changes in the ice sheet.
That's the kind of thing I'm very motivated by.
So I love to see repeat images.
That's like the best thing for me.

>> I'll just add to that that on the wall behind Ginny.
She's already used it a couple of times, is another map of Antarctica not collected with optical imagery but with a radar sensor that actually transmits a radar beam and records the scattered energy that it receives back.
And it is a totally different view of Antarctica.
On the LIMA website we've been able to combine different maps of Antarctica.
LIMA is one of them.
Once you have an interesting feature in your sites, you can click to this radar sat is the name of the satellite imagery of that same feature and even another optical sensor and you can get different views of that feature looked at in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
It will look different.
There is interesting science to do with comparing and contrasting with different views of the same feature.

>> We have a question here from wren middle.
How can water flow under the ice that is frozen?

>> You want me to handle that one?

>> Sure, Tom.

>> What happens.
At the base of the ice even though it's really, really cold, in some places it's warm enough you still have liquid water and this is something that is pretty exciting because it's only been figured out in the last -- even in the time I started with the program five years ago, you know, we've realized there is much more water than anybody thought of and part of it has to do with the geo thermal heat flux from the Earth and -- some of the exciteings things is that there are lakes around Antarctica and also underneath big thick parts of the ice.
We're talking about two different kinds of lakes.
I hope everybody understands that.
In the ice-free parts of Antarctica, less than 5% of Antarctica, there are small ponder around or small lakes.
These are things that might be 50 to 100 feet deep.
Some of them are ice covered and a couple of them are open water in the summer at least.
Then there is that one lake I showed you that stays open water all winter.
Then under the thicker parts of the ice sheet, places where the ice is literally miles thick, there are great big lakes like lake VOSTOK that is miles long and kilometers deep.
There is evidence that some lakes have popped a seal on the side and drained downhill into another lake.
Geologic evidence in the past that there were massive ice sheet lakes that broke out and created their own valleys at a place called the lab -- labyrinth in the dry valleys.

>> As people who study the ice like Ginny and I the recognition that there is so much water underneath the Antarctica ice sheet is an absolute revelation and entirely new field in our discipline because there is so much water it's moving around so much, that it has to have an important influence on how fast the ice is going.
So it's one of the -- one of the real frontiers in our science right now.
I'll just use that as an opportunity to tell people out there, because often students think that all the neat questions are happening right now.
All the neat science is going on right now.
But the neat thing about science is the questions never do stop.
This is just a perfect example of that.
We're not going to get all the questions answered.
We can't even anticipate what some of the questions are.
So students out there that are interested in science, there is going to be some absolutely fascinating stuff to do.
And so that's just serves as a reminder to students out there that science is fun.
It actually is very much like acting like Sherlock Holmes day in and day out and getting paid for it.
It's great.

>> Okay.
We have a question from O.L.M.G.
Could anything exist in the sub glacier lakes?

>> You want me to -- Ginny, do you want that one?

>> I'll give that one to you.
I'm not much of a biologist.

>> That's the million dollar question, Samantha!
One of the big things.
Chances are there are probably not fish.
But there probably is microbeall life and we have so good evidence to that.
Right now nobody has ever drilled into a sub glacial lake but there is discussion of drilling into lake VOSTOK.
There is a report online that tries to assess what might be in the lake and how we might safely drill into it without contaminating it.
The people that study it right now, what they've done is sampled the ice around the lake and there is evidence that part of lake VOSTOK as the massive ice sheet flows over the surface, on one side of the lake it melts a little bit and on the other side of the lake it crystallizes and forms more ice and the ice is lake water which we've drilled into.
There are some microbes in there.
It's sketchy or the science is really just beginning to happen but it looks like these things are like an Alpine lake that you might find in other cold parts of the world.
Mostly microbial life.
This lake has probably been isolated from the surface for many millions of years.
7 to 15 million years.
So potentially the life that's down there has evolved a little bit.
One of the other questions is what is their food source?
How could they live?
There is a theory that maybe there is a little bit of like a hydrothermal system that you might find at a mid ocean rings and black smokers on the sea floor.
Hot rocks that are causing water to percolate through it or maybe there is enough background heat to keep that lake alive and going.
This is probably one of the most exciting areas for future research and the next few years you're going to see a lot more coming out about it.

>> I can't let that one go, either.
NASA, we look for life all over the place in the solar system and beyond.
And it's a big, big question for us.
And Antarctica is the perfect test bed for many of the experiments that we are designing ultimately to be launched to other planets.
And so there -- the extreme environment in Antarctica is tremendously unique place on this planet that we have much easier access to and whether it's the sub glacial environment that you were asking about or some of the hyper saline environments with Don Juan pond and why it never freezes because it has so much salt in it.
You can find portions of LIMA that are related to these questions in biology and life in extreme environments.
You'll look at the dry valley area because that's where scientists are focusing their attention in the extreme environment experiments and investigation.
Go for it.
That's a great line of questioning to follow.

>> Okay.
Want to follow up with a question that is not totally LIMA directed but has anyone sent a sub to see under there, Amanda wants to know?

>> Let me take that.
She's probably talking about the sub glacial lake environment that's totally enclosed with ice and you have to drill through the ice to get to it.
And nobody has entered the sub glacial lake yet.
During the International Polar Year there are countries expressing serious intent to do that.
But because she mentioned submarines, I will mention one of my favorite topics, which are the floating ice shelves around the fringe of Antarctica.
Certainly you can see these with LIMA.
This is where the activity is really taking place on the ice sheet changes.
We have a project underway right now to study one of these major ice shelves that's called the pine island glacier ice shelf.
I was there and we had the first landing on the ice shelf this past summer during the field season.
But this next field season what is going to happen is that a research vessel, the U.S. research vessel is going the get as close as it can to this ice shelf and they're going to release an automatic submarine.
Automatic undersea vehicle and its mission is to go underneath the ice shelf and sample that water for the very first time.
There are biological questions there and physical questions about how the water that gets underneath that ice shelf interacts with the ice.
How much ice does it melt?
We have indications from satellite imagery that it melts a huge amount of ice.
Tens of meters and hundreds of meters of ice every year.
We've never been able to sample it and submarines will give us the first view.
Ultimately we want to drill through the ice shelf and put other instruments into the water that can stay a long time.
A submarine goes in and comes back out.
Hopefully comes back out and gives us a glimpse.
That's again one of the frontiers of science.
These are great questions because they're really taking us to the most exciting science that's being done right now.

>> Okay.
Jasmine asks, can I study the core of the ice and ash?
That's Amanda's question.

>> Yeah, you can.
There is actually a big--

>> Sure.

>> There is actually a big ice core drilling project that is happening right now for the next couple of years.
I don't know if you guys can see me but the drill is being -- the core is being taken from a place right here.
And the reason that it is being taken from there is it it acouple later a lot of snow in that area.
You get a lot of snow that dumps on the ice sheet there and that means every year you have a big annual layer of snow and over time that gets compressed by more and more snow so you get really thick layers of annual layers in that area.
And the other thing that Bob and Ted touched on earlier is you have melting at the base of the ice.
This is one of those places.
It is thick ice here.
You have melting at the bottom of the ice sheet here.
Not only do you have a lot of ice coming on the top of the ice sheet, a lot of snow on the top of the ice sheet but you have some removed from the bottom.
As the ice layers go down through the ice columns, they don't get compressed as much because you have removal of ice at the bottom.
You get nice thick layers really deep in this one particular area and it allows a great high resolution of data within each annual layer and it is going to be a very unique dataset, I think.
There have been a number of ice course drilled both in Greenland and Antarctica and many glaciers all over the world.
This will add a lot of new information about more recent temperature changes and changes in the atmosphere over the last 100,000 years or so.
It will be a great addition to the set of data that's out there already.

>> Okay.
A couple more before we wrap up here.
How often are the LIMA images updated?

>> Good question.
For LIMA what we did, we wanted a snapshot of Antarctica so we tried to make the time window as narrow as possible because of the fact that clouds get in the way and we needed cloud-free images.
LIMA spans a time period of about four years and it is what we call a benchmark.
A snapshot and reference point and we hope that every five or ten years we'll update it.
We'll do a new mosaic so we can look for changes on the continental scale but images taken at other times, landsat imagery started as early as 1973 and continues now with landsat seven.
New images are being collected all the time.
We hope there will be lots of time comparisons with individual images but very often I think LIMA is going to be a reference point we compare those changes to.
For right now, LIMA is that snapshot.
Because we've done it and we've been able to describe how we did it, I think it makes it easier to do it again and again and again on into the future.
So my hope is in the ten years' time we'll have another activity to produce another mosaic.

>> It would help to turn my Mike on.
One last question here.
Does the LIMA imagery provide data on temperature or depth?

>> Well, no, not directly.
However, the landsat data that are collected includes a number of bands.
We used three spectral bands to produce a true color image.
What you see is what you get.
This is the very best representation of what you would see if you were in Antarctica is by going to the LIMA website.
And that, as Ginny said, it is one way of us allowing you to bring Antarctica to you.
There are other bands collected by the lansat sensor.
One of those is a band so it actually does measure the surface temperature.
It is just we have not included that dataset in the LIMA imagery that is most easy to use through the website.
But the scientific data are there for scientists.
About ice thickness, again, no, we don't.
Only if that ice is floating and we have a shadow and through the techniques that I described earlier can we get an idea of how thick the ice is.
We really need to measure the elevation of the ice and with other sensors called ice penetrating radars we can actually measure the thickness.
Those are important datasets in their own right but when we combine those datasets with LIMA, we just have that much more to work with and it adds value to all the data.
It doesn't measure everything, but it gives us a lot of good information that helps us understand other data that are collected.

>> I don't know if you want to add anything to that, Ginny or Tom.

>> I learned something new.
I didn't know there was another band that was sensitive to temperature.

>> Okay, great.
That only proves we can all learn something at these webcasts.
Thank you for your questions.

>> That concludes our question and answer period for today's webcast.
I do want to give our scientists a chance to say any last words that they want to share with you before we sign off.
So let's start with Tom.
Tom, do you have any last words or thoughts to share?

>> Yeah.
I just want to say you should have a lot of fun with this project and again, as we -- all of us pointed out, the way to go about it is look at LIMA or find a feature or if there is something you know about Antarctica or learned somewhere else, see if you can use LIMA to help you understand that.
Dream your big dream as a scientist and you're starting out your career now and we're all looking forward to reading your proposals.

>> Ginny, do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?

>> I would echo Tom's words.
It's an exciting time to be interested in science because we have so much data available right now.
So I would just encourage you to browse on the website and check out all the things you're interested in and zoom in deeply to see what scales you can resolve and zoom out to try to figure out what you're looking at.
It will be a really fun project.
I encourage you to explore and have fun with it.

>> Thank you.
And Bob, how about yourself?
Would you like to share any last thoughts.

>> Both Tom and Ginny said the magic three letter word.
We hope by making this dataset the view of Antarctica as it looks so easy to look at that you will have fun.
Science is fun.
And you can be scientists.
You can just poke around, explore the continent and see what interests you.
That's what starts a lot of science projects is exactly that.
It's that sort of interest and intrigue and scratching your head saying what is that?
That's why we've come back to that as the central objective of this challenge is what is that?
Go explore Antarctica and see what you find and learn a little bit about it and you're doing science and hopefully having fun while you do it.

>> Well, thank you.
I want to thank Tom and Ginny and Bob for their enthusiasm and their expertise that they've shared with us today.
And to our audience, we look forward to receiving your proposals.
Just a reminder they are due -- the preliminary proposals are due on November 5 and you can send those.
You'll send those to Linda.
And then our scientists will be reviewing them and we'll have a closing webcast at the end of our challenge.
So go out there, do exactly like Bob, Tom and Ginny said.
Look at what sinting and explore it and enjoy it.
Send us something that is interesting and something that will even surprise us that will spark our interest as well.
So thank you all for joining us for listening to us today.
For sending in your questions.
And good luck.

 FirstGov  NASA

NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: October 08