About the Project

Have you ever wondered what the air you breathe would be like without the impact of human activities?

Or how the tiny particles in the atmosphere (called aerosols) make it to the most remote places on Earth and end up in ice cores?

The 2 Season Ozone Depletion, Ice, Aerosol Campaign (2ODIAC – pronounced ‘Zodiac’) plans to answer these questions and more. This Antarctic field experiment is a joint project between the University of Colorado and Drexel University to make the first simultaneous high-resolution measurements of the physics and chemistry of aerosols (fine particles in the atmosphere) and trace gasses (such as ozone) in Antarctica.   2ODIAC will provide the most detailed observations of naturally occurring aerosols and trace gases ever made in Antarctica.   By using state of the art instrumentation for the first time in Antarctica, we will be able to answer questions about the composition, sizes and chemistry of these fine particles, the natural and man made sources of these particles, their interactions with gases, snow, and ice, and how they evolve between the dark, sunless winters and the perpetual daylight of summer. These data will be fundamental to understanding the role of aerosol particles in the pristine environment of Antarctica.  

Inaccesible Island Bergs

Ice Bergs Near Field Site: There are many grounded ice bergs near the are chosen for the field site. This will provide both an opportunity and challenge – the grounded bergs create cracks in the ice which makes travel difficult, however these cracks are also a possible source of aerosol particles. (Photo: Alasdair Turner ASC).

We will help answer questions such as where and how atmospheric particles are formed, how they make it into the interior of the continent, and how they effect the chemistry of the snow and ice that covers much of the continent and that gives us a window into the evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past millennia.

In order to sample some of the most pristine air on Earth–far from human sources of pollution–the 2ODIAC team will set up a field camp on the frozen ocean near Ross Island, Antarctica.   Over two years, we will take observations both during the perpetual daylight of the Antarctic summer (October – December 2014) and during the transition from the long Antarctic night into spring (August – November 2015).   The field camp will be located just off the coast of the Antarctic continent, close to what is suspected to be the primary source of atmospheric particles – freshly frozen sea ice.


Scouting for field sites: Dr Kalnajs and colleagues from Antarctica New Zealand explore the sea ice around Ross Island looking for suitable field sites (Photo: Tom Reese CU/LASP).

The location was chosen to sample air that has traveled over 100’s of kilometers of sea ice along the coast as well as air that has traveled down the glaciers from the interior of Antarctica depending on the wind direction.   While we expect it to be extremely challenging to operate complex and delicate scientific instruments (many of which have never been used in Antarctica) in such a harsh environment, our goal is to collect 4-6 weeks of around the clock data.


Antarctica NZ field Site

Antarctica New Zealand Field Site: There is a long history of atmospheric measurements in vicinity of the 2ODIAC field site. Pictured is robotic spectrometer operated by New Zealand and German colleagues during the 2012 field season. (Photo: Tim Hay ANZ/NIWA).

The team will be lead by Dr. Lars Kalnajs from the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and Prof. Peter DeCarlo from Drexel University.   The field team for the first expedition from October – December 2014 is comprised of Dr. Michael Giordano (Drexel University), Dr. Sean Davis (National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration / University of Colorado), Prof. Terry Deshler (University of Wyoming / University of Colorado) and Anita Johnson (Drexel University). This project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs. Stay tuned over the next three months for updates from the Ice. We will keep you posted on the excitement and challenges of living and working in Antarctica, as well as a first look at the Antarctic atmosphere from a new and exciting perspective.