On 2 January 2003, the U.S. component of the International Trans Antarctic Scientific Expedition (U.S. ITASE) (Figure 1) arrived at the South Pole after completing more than 5000 km of oversnow traverses that included much of west Antarctica and a portion of east Antarctica (Figure 2). During the traverses, which were performed from 1999 through 2003, U.S. ITASE focused on collecting data that will allow the reconstruction of sub-annual scale climate variability and changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere over the last 200+ years.
ITASE is a multi-disciplinary research program supported by 19 nations and endorsed by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) [Mayewski and Goodwin, 1997]. It is designed to reconstruct the recent climate history of Antarctica through ice coring and related observations along a network of extensive intra-continental traverses. The U.S. component of ITASE is supported by the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation. It includes scientific projects from the following institutions: Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory-U.S. Army, Desert Research Institute, NASA, Ohio State University, St. Olaf College, the University of Arizona, the University of Colorado, the University of Maine, and the University of Washington. Information concerning climate variability in the middle and high latitudes of the southern hemisphere is obtained by U.S. ITASE, through calibrations developed between US. ITASE ice core records and direct atmospheric observations [Kreutz et al., 2000; Meyerson et al., 2002; Schneider and Steig, 2002].