Snow Roads at McMurdo Station, Antarctica
COLD REGIONS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING LAB HANOVER NH
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Snow roads are the critical link between McMurdo Station and its snow and ice airfields. During warmer periods of the Antarctic summer, these roads can deteriorate significantly, requiring supplies and personnel to be transported by specialized limited-supply vehicles. Less severe failures restrict traffic to the slow tracked-vehicle fleet. The Antarctic snow roads were observed during the 2002-2003 season to gain a better understanding of their behavior and to identify potential performance improvements that could be made. Our objectives were to explore ways to reduce the incidence of snow road failures, to understand and document current construction and maintenance procedures, and to suggest processes to optimize labor and equipment use. We monitored the snow conditions, compared strength measurements with processing techniques, monitored strength setup with time sintering, monitored snow road temperature profiles, observed any road failures, and collected fleet data use, vehicles, tire pressures, speeds. Our observations during the 2002 and 2003 austral summer are reported along with a substantial summary of historic snow road observations and guidance. The results of this project are timely in light of a current transportation study to consolidate to a single McMurdo airfield where the research and development to achieve a robust and resilient snow road network will be crucial for airfield operability.
- Snow, Ice and Permafrost
- Civil Engineering