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The West Antarctic GPS Network (WAGN) is a joint project sponsored by the National Science Foundation, involving scientists from the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics, the Pacific GPS Facility at the University of Hawaii School of Ocean Science and Technology, and the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis.
Leica provided eight RS500 CORS GPS monitoring stations for the project, which was conducted during the austral summer months of early 2002. The receivers were placed atop rock outcroppings called nunataks, to take baseline 3-D position measurements. The scientists will revisit the monuments at intervals to remeasure the positions. They will then be able to quantify the magnitude and rates of the vertical and horizontal motions of the underlying bedrock. Scientists believe that these tectonic motions may affect the stability of the overlying ice sheet with far-reaching implications for global climate and sea levels worldwide.
In addition to the extreme cold temperatures and highly adverse wind conditions, the Leica RS500 CORS stations had to contend with a very harsh signal-tracking environment caused by the ionospheric activity in the region. Where other GPS units had failed to surmount these environmental problems in the past, the Leica RS500 CORS units were able to successfully gather positioning data without interruption.