Ice Stories
Exploratorium Home

Why We Install GPS Systems



DEVERALL ISLAND, ANTARCTICA– The POLENET project installed their newest high-precision GPS system on Deverall Island, Antarctica. These GPS systems tell us how much the ground underneath the ice sheet is moving upward. This has important implications on the movement of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its interplay with the rock below.

Click below to hear more about it.


Deverall Island, the southernmost island in the world. It is located at the western margin of the Transantarctic Mountains on the Ross Sea Ice Shelf.

The frame that holds all the electronics, weather stations, satellite modems to transfer data, and the solar panels and batteries used for powering the system continuously throughout the year.

The ski-equipped de Havilland Twin Otter aircraft that is used to transport science teams to field sites in Antarctica.


Tags: , , ,

5 Responses »

  1. Thank you for the photographs of Deverall Island.
    Deverall Island was named by one of two survey pairs that ventured out on the ice for 100 days at a time with a sledge and dog team. They took turns taking star sights while the other looked up log tables to calculate their position. They flew over the blank land that only became familiar on the return when they had given names to some of it’s features. Communication back to Scott Base was by Morse and usually restricted to one dash for yes and two dashes for no to conserve battery power. Scott base however had ample power and Bill Deverall, radio operator, was able to provide world news and local gossip while on watch every 4 hours.
    As Deverall Island was sighted Bill had just woken from sleep and not to miss a schedule broadcast an early morning cough. The surveyors in their early twenties did not think this old man of 37 would live much longer and so named the Island after him.
    Many of the main features on the map were renamed on the data’s return to New Zealand replacing field names with important political figures such as Nash Range New Zealand’s Prime minister at the time. Deverall Island was seen as small and insignificant at that time, 1961 (rock, ice and no animals or people ever visiting.) so the name remained.
    Bill says “It’s not a topic you talk about, because there are many others who more justly deserve to have had an area named after them.”
    Thank you again for the photographs from the internet. Bill Deverall has a framed picture of Deverall Island proudly displayed on the wall of his home study/radio room and follows your exploits with interest.

  2. Terry,

    Thank you so much for your comments! My name is Stephanie Konfal, and I am a PhD student working on POLENET. I was at the Deverall Island install last year, and have visited the island two other times in the past. Your story is wonderful, and so rewarding to read. Bill’s comment about others more justly deserving to have an area named after them is such a humble view, and in my opinion only strengthens the justification for having Deverall Island named after him and his noble pursuits. Thank you for sharing your story and the origin of the name for Deverall Island. I know I will certainly be thinking of both you and Bill the next time I visit.

  3. Terry,

    I would be interested in talking with you. You can contact me at “polenet.kpc at gmail dot com.”

    Thank you,

    Kelly Carroll
    POLENET

  4. I spoke to Dad (W.H.Deverall) And he read the comments posted here. “it’s true” he said, with a smile. “Deverall Island’s original name may have been Fido Island after a well known lead dog. A directive from New Zealand required land marks not to be named after animals etc. Dad first heard the name Deverall Island being used to over the radio as the northern and southern field parties rendezvoused at the island in 1961.
    The survey parties kept a journal that was handed back to the government. I have not seen this journal and do not know if it still exists.
    I was privileged last year to attend a reunion of many who wintered over in 1961, and have a sister, Lesley, who went to Scott Base to see the 50TH year celebration. Terrt Deverall.

  5. Added to my RSS, Thanks!