Siple Coast Subglacial Aquatic Environments: The Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling Project

Helen Amanda Fricker, Ross Powell, John Priscu, Slawek Tulaczyk, Sridhar Anandakrishnan, Brent Christner, Andrew T. Fisher, David Holland, Huw Horgan, Robert Jacobel, Jill Mikucki, Andrew Mitchell, Reed Scherer, Jeff Severinghaus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project is a 6-year (2009-2015) integrative study of ice sheet stability and subglacial geobiology in West Antarctica, funded by the Antarctic Integrated System Science Program of National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, Antarctic Division. The overarching scientific objective of WISSARD is to assess the role of water beneath a West Antarctic Ice Stream in interlinked glaciological, geological, microbiological, geochemical, hydrological, and oceanographic systems. The WISSARD's important science questions relate to (1) the role that subglacial and ice shelf cavity waters and wet sediments play in ice stream dynamics and mass balance, with an eye on the possible future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and (2) the microbial metabolic and phylogenetic diversity in these subglacial environments. The study area is the downstream part of the Whillans Ice Stream on the Siple Coast, specifically Subglacial Lake Whillans and the part of the grounding zone across which it drains. In this chapter, we provide background on the motivation for the WISSARD project, detail the key scientific goals, and describe the new measurement tools and strategies under development that will provide the framework for conducting an unprecedented range of scientific observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAntarctic Subglacial Aquatic Environments
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781118670354
ISBN (Print)9780875904825
StatePublished - Mar 26 2013


  • Antarctica
  • Aquatic ecology-Antarctica
  • Biology
  • Glaciology
  • Groundinglines
  • Subglacial lakes-Antarctica-Discovery and exploration
  • Subglacial lakes-Antarctica-History
  • Subglacial lakes-Polar regions-Discovery and exploration
  • Subglacial lakes-Polar regions-History
  • Subglacialhydrology
  • Subglaciallakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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