South Pole Traverse


South Pole Traverse
South Pole Traverse
McMurdo – South Pole Highway

A red line indicating the path of the traverse
Route information
Length: 900 mi[citation needed] (1,400 km)
Existed: 2007 – present
Major junctions
South end: Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station
North end: McMurdo Station
Highway system

Transport in Antarctica

The South Pole Traverse, also called the McMurdo – South Pole Highway, is an approximately 900-mile (1450 km) compacted snow road in Antarctica that links the United States' McMurdo Station on the coast to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. It was constructed by leveling snow and filling in crevasses, but is not paved; flags mark its route.

Contents

Route description

After four years of development, the trail is now operational, with Caterpillar and Case Corp. tractors pulling specialized sleds to deliver fuel and cargo to the South Pole in about 40 days. The return trip to McMurdo Station, with less fuel and cargo, is substantially shorter. Construction started during the 2002-03 southern summer field season. It was finished in the southern summer of 2005-2006.[1]

The McMurdo Ice Shelf and the Antarctic Plateau are relatively stable. Most crevasses occur in the short steep shear zone between them, where the road climbs to more than 2000 meters above sea level. This section of the road needs maintenance each season. The section caused much more construction work than planned, since two ice sheets move against each other there.[citation needed]

History

Cargo caravan on the ice highway early 2006

The project was funded by the United States National Science Foundation to provide a lower cost, potentially more reliable method of supplying the South Pole Station. Bad weather at McMurdo some summers has reduced the total number of supply flights the NSF could make to bring in construction supplies and scientific equipment. In addition, the traverse saves an estimated 40 flights and lowers the carbon footprint over the use of aircraft[citation needed]. After a one-year hiatus, a traverse team re-occupied the trail during the 2007–08 season after extensive work and completed the first operational traverse in 2008–09.[2]

The road also facilitated the movement of heavy equipment needed to implement its proposed South Pole Connectivity Program, a planned optical fiber link between the South Pole and the French–Italian Concordia Station located at Dome C at the edge of the Antarctic Plateau; Concordia has 24-hour access to geosynchronous satellites. Such satellites cannot be used at the poles since they are below the horizon; the South Pole now uses a few older, low-bandwidth satellites that dip sufficiently south of the equator to be usable for several hours daily. These satellites are near the end of their life. A new road to McMurdo might provide a regularly maintained alternate route for such a link; however, opinions vary as to the shear zone section's suitability for a long-term cable. It's also possible the NSF may choose to deploy several special purpose satellites in polar orbits.[3]

A February 7, 2006 NSF press release stated that 110 tons (99,790 kg) of cargo had been successfully delivered overland to the South Pole Station in a "proof of concept" of the highway.[4]

Major intersections

Region Location Mile Destinations Notes
East Antarctica Antarctic Plateau 0 Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station Southern terminus
West Antarctica Ross Ice Shelf 900 McMurdo Station Northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References

Portal icon Antarctica portal
Portal icon U.S. Roads portal

Further reading

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • South Pole — This article is about the Geographic South Pole. For other uses, see South Pole (disambiguation). Coordinates: 90°S 0°W / 90°S 0°W / 90; 0 …   Wikipedia

  • Amundsen's South Pole expedition — Roald Amundsen s South Pole expedition (1910–1912) was a Norwegian expedition to Antarctica aiming to be the first to reach the South Pole. The expedition was a success, Amundsen s team arrived at the pole in 14 December 1911, beating Robert… …   Wikipedia

  • Pole of inaccessibility (Antarctic research station) — Pole of inaccessibility ( ru. Полюс недоступности) is a now defunct Soviet research station in Antarctica, located near the southern pole of inaccessibility (coord|82|06|S|54|58|E|) mdash; the point in Antarctica furthest from any ocean. (However …   Wikipedia

  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands — South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands …   Wikipedia

  • Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica — The Norwegian U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica is a research program consisting of two overland traverses of East Antarctica: the first from the Norwegian Troll Station to the South Pole in the 2007/2008 season; and a return traverse… …   Wikipedia

  • Geography of South Dakota — Terrain and primary geographic features of South Dakota South Dakota is a state located in the north central United States. It is usually considered to be in the Midwestern region of the country. The state can generally be divided into three… …   Wikipedia

  • Mario Giovinetto — (born 1933, La Plata, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina) is a glaciologist, climatologist, and geographer. He is a Canadian citizen with permanent resident status in the US. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Japanische Antarktisforschung — Nobu Shirase, der Führer der Japanischen Antarktisexpedition von 1910 bis 1912 Kainan Maru, das E …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • McMurdo (disambiguation) — McMurdo may refer to: Archibald McMurdo (1812–1894), British naval officer McMurdo Station, a station at the southern tip of Ross Island in Antarctica The South Pole Traverse, also known as the McMurdo – South Pole highway McMurdo Sound, a sound… …   Wikipedia

  • Ong Valley — (83°14′S 157°37′E / 83.233°S 157.617°E / 83.233; 157.617) is a mainly ice free valley 5 nautical miles (9 km) long, just west of Kreiling Mesa in the Miller Range. Named by …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.