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Non-Commercial and Government Support

Flight and logistic support for Antarctic science

Contributing to the Antarctic community and supporting Antarctic science are core values for us. Our parent company, Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), acts as a contractor to provide flight and logistic support to National Antarctic Programs and other peer-reviewed research projects. Each year, as our logistic capability has grown, so has our capacity to support scientific research projects and these now play a significant role in our operations. Some projects we have supported are described below.

Lake Ellsworth Project

The Lake Ellsworth project, which is funded and managed by an international consortium, aims to drill through the overlying ice sheet into the lake water, before deploying a probe (to test for life in the lake) and a sediment corer (to recover sediment from the lake-floor). ALE was part of a full proposal to explore the lake made in July 2008 to the UK Natural Environment Research Council by the Lake Ellsworth Consortium. The project was given the go-ahead in March 2009. ALE has alaready begun to put infrastructure in place to support this ambitious project - close to 70 tonnes of cargo was flown to Union Glacier in 2011. Field work will take place during the 2012 season.

A route from Union Glacier to the subglacial Lake Ellsworth site was proved by Centro de Estudios Científicos, Valdivia, Chile (CECS) during the period 2005 to 2011 with the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) operated from ALE’s tractors.

ALE has provided logistic support for several visits to Lake Ellsworth, northwest of Mount Vinson. We sent our tractor train there in January 2006 with Chilean glaciologists from the Centro de Estudios Cientificos to undertake a short survey of Lake Ellsworth to help determine the size and extent of the lake. Between November 2007 and February 2008, a four-person team were deployed by BAS, with ALE support.  Using seismic and radar surveys, they were able to map the outline of the lake, measure it's depth and evaluate whether sediments, which could contain a record of ice sheet history, are present on the lake floor.

View project details at www.ellsworth.org.uk

The exploration of Lake Ellsworth is a component of a plan to explore Antarctic Subglacial Lake Environments (a SCAR research program). http://salegos-scar.montana.edu/

Centro de Estudios Científicos

ALE has supported several projects by the Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies, Valdivia, Chile), including involvement in the Lake Ellsworth Project and glacier flow rate and bedrock studies at Union Glacier. CECS first accompanied the Chilean Army traverse to the South Pole in 2004 and subsequently surveyed routes from Patriot Hills to Lake Ellsworth and from Union Glacier to Lake Ellsworth drilling site. CECS is part of the Lake Ellsworth Consortium. www.cecs.cl/website/

CECS have been invaluable in undertaking GPR surveys of the Patriot Hills to Union Glacier route and of Union Glacier itself. They have worked closely with ALE commissioned land surveyors to make surveys of Union Glacier ice runway.

University of New South Wales and University of Exeter - Holocene Stability of West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Researchers from the University New South Wales and University of Exeter conducted fieldwork in the Union Glacier area during the 2010-11 season. The team is looking at changes in ice sheet dynamics using mountains protruding through the ice sheet as dipsticks of past changes in thickness and volume. The results of their fieldwork will help contextualize recent glacial changes of the WAIS as a result of climate change. www.christurney.com and http://tv.unsw.edu.au/video/antarctica-1912-discovering-science-on-ice


ALE has provided flight and landing support for Twin Otter and C-130 Hercules aircraft, as well as meals and accommodation for flight crews and field staff involved with the United States Antarctic Program’s Polenet project. http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/science/contenthandler.cfm?id=1453

Brazilian Antarctic Program (2009)

A group of scientists from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, part of the Brazilian Antarctic Program, were flown to Mount St Johns where they drilled a 250ft (75m) ice core that will complete one of the gaps in the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) snow sampling net over Antarctica. A second group undertook atmospheric and geological studies in the Independence Hills.

Argentine Antarctic Program

In 2009 and 2011 we supported Argentine research by flying station personnel to and from Belgrano II station. The station is usually supplied by ship but the Argentine icebreaker was temporarily out of service and personnel exchange was accomplished via ALE aircraft for the first time. This allowed staff rotation to occur in November, well before the icebreaker would normally reach the station.


A team from the Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) undertook a multi-year meteorite study near the Moulton Escarpment, Thiel Mountains, with logistic support provided by ALE.  See file attachment below.

File Attachments: 
Photos from Flickr:
NSF scientists on Patriot Hills ridge
Flight support for Polenet
Offloading NSF C-130 aircraft
Argentine Antarctic Program personnel
Offloading NSF C-130 aircraft
NSF C-130 aircraft at ALE skiway
Moving a pallette of US Antarctic Program cargo
USAP personnel organize equipment at ALE's camp
Polenet field assistant works on a map of Union Glacier
CECS Scientific traverse to South Pole
Twin Otter meets up with the ALE supported, CECS overland traverse
Ground Penetrating Radar unit