This project acquired measurements of the concentration of beryllium-10 (10Be) from an ice core from the South Pole, Antarctica. An isotope of the element beryllium, 10Be, is produced in the atmosphere by high-energy protons (cosmic rays) that enter Earth's atmosphere from space. It is removed from the atmosphere by settling or by scavenging by rain or snowfall. Hence, concentrations of 10Be in snow at the South Pole reflect the production rate of 10Be in the atmosphere. Because the rate of production of 10Be over Antarctica depends primarily on the strength of the Sun's magnetic field, measurements of 10Be in the South Pole ice core provide a record of changes in solar activity. To ain interpretation of the South Pole 10Be record, a climate model that can simulate the production of 10Be in the atmosphere, it's transport through the atmosphere, and its deposition at the snow surface in Antarctica is used to quantify the impact of climate noise on the 10Be signal.
The investigators plan to reconstruct historical variations in the sources of atmospheric carbon monoxide (CO) from measurements of the concentration and stable isotopic abundance of carbon monoxide ([CO], 13CO and C18O) in the South Pole Ice Core, which is being drilled in 2014-2016. The goal is to strategically sample and reconstruct the relative variations in CO source strengths over the past 20,000 years. These will be the first measurements to extend the CO record beyond 650 years before present, back to the last glacial maximum. Both atmospheric chemical processes and variations in CO sources can impact the CO budget, and variations in the CO budget are useful in identifying and quantifying chemistry-climate interactions.
This award supports a project to measure the concentration of the gas methane in air trapped in an ice core collected from the South Pole. The data will provide an age scale (age as a function of depth) by matching the South Pole methane changes with similar data from other ice cores for which the age vs. depth relationship is well known. The ages provided will allow all other gas measurements made on the South Pole core (by the PI and other NSF supported investigators) to be interpreted accurately as a function of time. This is critical because a major goal of the South Pole coring project is to understand the history of rare gases in the atmosphere like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ethane, propane, methyl chloride, and methyl bromide. Relatively little is known about what controls these gases in the atmosphere despite their importance to atmospheric chemistry and climate. Undergraduate assistants will work on the project and be introduced to independent research through their work. The PI will continue visits to local middle schools to introduce students to polar science, and other outreach activities (e.g. laboratory tours, talks to local civic or professional organizations) as part of the project. <br/><br/>Methane concentrations from a major portion (2 depth intervals, excluding the brittle ice-zone which is being measured at Penn State University) of the new South Pole ice core will be used to create a gas chronology by matching the new South Pole ice core record with that from the well-dated WAIS Divide ice core record. In combination with measurements made at Penn State, this will provide gas dating for the entire 50,000-year record. Correlation will be made using a simple but powerful mid-point method that has been previously demonstrated, and other methods of matching records will be explored. The intellectual merit of this work is that the gas chronology will be a fundamental component of this ice core project, and will be used by the PI and other investigators for dating records of atmospheric composition, and determining the gas age-ice age difference independently of glaciological models, which will constrain processes that affected firn densification in the past. The methane data will also provide direct stratigraphic markers of important perturbations to global biogeochemical cycles (e.g., rapid methane variations synchronous with abrupt warming and cooling in the Northern Hemisphere) that will tie other ice core gas records directly to those perturbations. A record of the total air content will also be produced as a by-product of the methane measurements and will contribute to understanding of this parameter. The broader impacts include that the work will provide a fundamental data set for the South Pole ice core project and the age scale (or variants of it) will be used by all other investigators working on gas records from the core. The project will employ an undergraduate assistant(s) in both years who will conduct an undergraduate research project which will be part of the student's senior thesis or other research paper. The project will also offer at least one research position for the Oregon State University Summer REU site program. Visits to local middle schools, and other outreach activities (e.g. laboratory tours, talks to local civic or professional organizations) will also be part of the project.
This award supports a project to develop a better understanding of the relation between ice microstructure, impurities, and ice flow and their connection to climate history for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) ice core site. This work builds on several ongoing studies at Siple Dome in West Antarctica and Dome C in East Antarctica. It is well known that the microstructure of ice evolves with depth and time in an ice sheet. This evolution of microstructure depends on the ice flow field, temperature, and impurity content. The ice flow field, in turn, depends on microstructure, leading to feedbacks that create layered variation in microstructure that relates to climate and flow history. The research proposed here focuses on developing a better understanding of: 1) how ice microstructure evolves with time and stress in an ice sheet and how that relates to impurity content, temperature, and strain rate; 2) how variations in ice microstructure and impurity content affect ice flow patterns near ice divides (on both small (1cm to 1m) and large (1m to 100km) scales); and 3) in what ways is the spatial variability of ice microstructure and its effect on ice flow important for interpretation of climate history in the WAIS Divide ice core. The study will integrate existing ice core and borehole data with a detailed study of ice microstructure using Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) techniques and measurements of borehole deformation through time using Acoustic Televiewers. This will be the first study to combine these two novel techniques for studying the relation between microstructure and deformation and it will build on other data being collected as part of other WAIS Divide borehole logging projects (e.g. sonic velocity, optical dust logging, temperature and other measurements on the ice core including fabric measurements from thin section analyses as well as studies of ice chemistry and stable isotopes. The intellectual merit of the work is that it will improve interpretation of ice core data (especially information on past accumulation) and overall understanding of ice flow. The broader impacts are that the work will ultimately contribute to a better interpretation of ice core records for both paleoclimate studies and for ice flow history, both of which connect to the broader questions of the role of ice in the climate system. The work will also advance the careers of two early-career female scientists, including one with a hearing impairment disability. This project will support a PhD student at the UAF and provide research and field experience for two or three undergraduates at Dartmouth. The PIs plan to include a teacher on their field team and collaborate with UAF's "From STEM to STEAM" toward enhancing the connection between art and science.
In the past, Earth's climate underwent dramatic changes that influenced physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes on a global scale. Such changes left an imprint in Earth's atmosphere, as shown by the variability in abundances of trace gases like carbon dioxide and methane. In return, changes in the atmospheric trace gas composition affected Earth's climate. Studying compositional variations of the past atmosphere helps us understand the history of interactions between global biogeochemical cycles and Earth?s climate. The most reliable information on past atmospheric composition comes from analysis of air entrapped in polar ice cores. This project aims to generate ice-core records of relatively short-lived, very-low-abundance trace gases to determine the range of past variability in their atmospheric levels and investigate the changes in global biogeochemical cycles that caused this variability. This project measures three such gases: carbonyl sulfide, methyl chloride, and methyl bromide. Changes in carbonyl sulfide can indicate changes in primary productivity and photosynthetic update of carbon dioxide. Changes in methyl chloride and methyl bromide significantly impact natural variability in stratospheric ozone. In addition, the processes that control atmospheric levels of methyl chloride and methyl bromide are shared with those controlling levels of atmospheric methane. The measurements will be made in the new ice core from the South Pole, which is expected to provide a 40,000-year record.<br/><br/>The primary focus of this project is to develop high-quality trace gas records for the entire Holocene period (the past 11,000 years), with additional, more exploratory measurements from the last glacial period including the period from 29,000-36,000 years ago when there were large changes in atmospheric methane. Due to the cold temperatures of the South Pole ice, the proposed carbonyl sulfide measurements are expected to provide a direct measure of the past atmospheric variability of this gas without the large hydrolysis corrections that are necessary for interpretation of measurements from ice cores in warmer settings. Furthermore, we will test the expectation that contemporaneous measurements from the last glacial period in the deep West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core will not require hydrolysis loss corrections. With respect to methyl chloride, we aim to verify and improve the existing Holocene atmospheric history from the Taylor Dome ice core in Antarctica. The higher resolution of our measurements compared with those from Taylor Dome will allow us to derive a more statistically significant relationship between methyl chloride and methane. With respect to methyl bromide, we plan to extend the existing 2,000-year database to 11,000 years. Together, the methyl bromide and methyl chloride records will provide strong measurement-based constraints on the natural variability of stratospheric halogens during the Holocene period. In addition, the methyl bromide record will provide insight into the correlation between methyl chloride and methane during the Holocene period due to common sources and sinks.
This project will develop a record of the stable-isotope ratios of water from an ice core at the South Pole, Antarctica. Water-isotope ratio measurements provide a means to determine variability in temperature through time. South Pole is distinct from most other locations in Antarctica in showing no warming in recent decades, but little is known about temperature variability in this location prior to the installation of weather stations in 1957. The measurements made as part of this project will result in a much longer temperature record, extending at least 40,000 years, aiding our ability to understand what controls Antarctic climate, and improving projections of future Antarctic climate change. Data from this project will be critical to other investigators working on the South Pole ice core, and of general interest to other scientists and the public. Data will be provided rapidly to other investigators and made public as soon as possible.<br/><br/>This project will obtain records of the stable-isotope ratios of water on the ice core currently being obtained at South Pole. The core will reach a depth of 1500 m and an age of 40,000 years. The project will use laser spectroscopy to obtain both an ultra-high-resolution record of oxygen 18/16 and deuterium-hydrogen ratios, and a lower-resolution record of oxygen 17/16 ratios. The high-resolution measurements will be used to aid in dating the core, and to provide estimates of isotope diffusion that constrain the process of firn densification. The novel 17/16 measurement provides additional constraints on the isotope fractionation due to the temperature-dependent supersaturation ratio, which affects the fractionation of water during the liquid-solid condensate transition. Together, these techniques will allow for improved accuracy in the use of the water isotope ratios as proxies for ice-sheet temperature, sea-surface temperature, and atmospheric circulation. The result will be a record of decadal through centennial and millennial scale climate change in a climatically distinct region in East Antarctica that has not been previously sampled by deep ice coring. The project will support a graduate student who will be co-advised by faculty at the University of Washington and the University of Colorado, and will be involved in all aspects of the work.
This award supports the deployment and analysis of data from an oriented laser dust logger in the South Pole ice core borehole to complement study of the ice core record. Before the core is even processed, data from the borehole probe will immediately determine the depth-age relationship, augment 3D mapping of South Pole stratigraphy, aid in searches for the oldest ice in Antarctica, and reveal layers of volcanic or extraterrestrial fallout. Regarding the intellectual merit, the oriented borehole log will be essential for investigating features in the ice sheet that may have implications for ice core chronology, ice flow, ice sheet physical properties and stability in response to climate change. The tools and techniques developed in this program have applications in glaciology, biogeoscience and exploration of other planetary bodies. The program aims for a deeper understanding of the consequences and causes of abrupt climate change. The broader impacts of the project are that it will include outreach and education, providing a broad training ground for students and post-docs. Data and metadata will be made available through data centers and repositories such as the National Snow and Ice Data Center web portal. <br/><br/>The laser dust logger detects reproducible paleoclimate features at sub-centimeter depth scale. Dust logger data are being used for synchronizing records and dating any site on the continent, revealing accumulation anomalies and episodes of rapid ice sheet thinning, and discovering particulate horizons of special interest. In this project we will deploy a laser dust logger equipped with a magnetic compass to find direct evidence of preferentially oriented dust. Using optical scattering measurements from IceCube calibration studies at South Pole and borehole logs at WAIS Divide, we have detected a persistent anisotropy correlated with flow and crystal fabric which suggests that the majority of insoluble particulates must be located within ice grains. With typical concentrations of parts-per-billion, little is known about the location of impurities within the polycrystalline structure of polar ice. While soluble impurities are generally thought to concentrate at inter-grain boundaries and determine electrical conductivity, the fate of insoluble particulates is much less clear, and microscopic examinations are extremely challenging. These in situ borehole measurements will help to unravel intimate relationships between impurities, flow, and crystal fabric. Data from this project will further develop a unique record of South Pole surface roughness as a proxy for paleowind and provide new insights for understanding glacial radar propagation. This project has field work in Antarctica.
This proposal requests support for a project to drill and recover a new ice core from South Pole, Antarctica. The South Pole ice core will be drilled to a depth of 1500 m, providing an environmental record spanning approximately 40 kyrs. This core will be recovered using a new intermediate drill, which is under development by the U.S. Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) group in collaboration with Danish scientists. This proposal seeks support to provide: 1) scientific management and oversight for the South Pole ice core project, 2) personnel for ice core drilling and core processing, 3) data management, and 3) scientific coordination and communication via scientific workshops. The intellectual merit of the work is that the analysis of stable isotopes, atmospheric gases, and aerosol-borne chemicals in polar ice has provided unique information about the magnitude and timing of changes in climate and climate forcing through time. The international ice core research community has articulated the goal of developing spatial arrays of ice cores across Antarctica and Greenland, allowing the reconstruction of regional patterns of climate variability in order to provide greater insight into the mechanisms driving climate change. The broader impacts of the project include obtaining the South Pole ice core will support a wide range of ice core science projects, which will contribute to the societal need for a basic understanding of climate and the capability to predict climate and ice sheet stability on long time scales. Second, the project will help train the next generation of ice core scientists by providing the opportunity for hands-on field and core processing experience for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington will be directly supported by this project, and many other young scientists will interact with the project through individual science proposals. Third, the project will result in the development of a new intermediate drill which will become an important resource to US ice core science community. This drill will have a light logistical footprint which will enable a wide range of ice core projects to be carried out that are not currently feasible. Finally, although this project does not request funds for outreach activities, the project will run workshops that will encourage and enable proposals for coordinated outreach activities involving the South Pole ice core science team.
This collaborative project explores the signatures and causes of natural climate change in the region surrounding Antarctica over the last 40,000 years as the Earth transitioned from an ice age into the modern warm period. The researchers will investigate how the wind belts that surround Antarctica changed in their strength and position through time, and document explosive volcanic eruptions and CO2 cycling in the Southern Ocean as potential climate forcing mechanisms over this interval. Understanding how and why the climate varied naturally in the past is critical for improving understanding of modern climate change and projections of future climate under higher levels of atmospheric CO2. <br/><br/>The investigators plan to conduct a suite of chemical measurements along the 1500m length of the South Pole Ice Core, including major ion and trace element concentrations, and microparticle (dust) concentrations and size distributions. These measurements will (1) extend the South Pole record of explosive volcanic eruptions to 40,000 years using sulfate and particle data; (2) establish the relative timing of climate changes in dust source regions of Patagonia, New Zealand, and Australia using dust flux data; (3) investigate changes in the strength and position of the westerly wind belt using dust size distribution data; and (4) quantify the flux of bioavailable trace metals deposited as dust to the Southern Ocean over time. These chemistry records will also be critical for creating the timescale that will be used by all researchers studying records from the South Pole core. The project will support four graduate students and several undergraduate students across three different institutions, and become a focus of the investigators' efforts to disseminate outcomes of climate change science to the broader community.
The temperature of the earth is controlled, in part, by heat trapping gases that include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Despite their importance to climate, direct measurements of these gases in the atmosphere are limited to the last 50 years at best. Air trapped in ice cores extends those data back hundreds of millennia, and measurements of greenhouse gases in ice cores underpin much of our understanding of global chemical cycles relevant to modern climate change. Existing records vary in quality and detail. The proposed work fills gaps in our knowledge of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide over the last 10,000 years. New measurements from an ice core from the South Pole will be used to determine what role changes in ocean and land based processes played in controlling these gases, which decreased during the first 2,000 years of this time period, then gradually increased toward the present. The work will address a major controversy over whether early human activities could have impacted the atmosphere, and provide data to improve mathematical models of the land-ocean-atmosphere system that predict how future climate change will impact the composition of the atmosphere and climate. <br/><br/>For nitrous oxide the work will improve on existing concentration records It will also develop measurement of the isotopomers of nitrous oxide and explore their utility for understanding aspects of the Holocene nitrous oxide budget. The primary goal is to determine if marine and/or terrestrial emissions of nitrous oxide change in response to changes in Holocene climate. A new Holocene isotopic record for carbon dioxide (stable carbon and oxygen isotopes), will improve the precision of existing records by a factor 5 and increase the temporal resolution. These data will be used to evaluate controversial hypotheses about why carbon dioxide concentrations changed in the Holocene and provide insight into millennial scale processes in the carbon cycle, which are not resolved by current isotopic data. A graduate student and post doc will receive advanced training during and the student and principle investigator will conduct outreach efforts targeted at local middle school students. The proposed work will also contribute to teaching efforts by the PI and to public lectures on climate and climate change. The results will be disseminated through publications, data archive, and the OSU Ice Core Lab web site. New analytical methods of wide utility will also be developed and documented.
Overview: The funded work investigated whether ice core 86Kr acts as a proxy for barometric pressure variability, and whether this proxy can be used in Antarctic ice cores to infer past movement of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) westerly winds. Pressure variations drive macroscopic air movement in the firn column, which reduces the gravitational isotopic enrichment of slow-diffusing gases (such as Kr). The 86Kr deviation from gravitational equilibrium (denoted D86Kr) thus reflects the magnitude of pressure variations (among other things). Atmospheric reanalysis data suggest that pressure variability over Antarctica is linked to the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index and the position of the SH westerly winds. Preliminary data from the WAIS Divide ice core show a large excursion in D86Kr during the last deglaciation (20-9 ka before present). In this project the investigators (1) performed high-precision 86Kr analysis on ice core and firn air samples to establish whether D86Kr is linked to pressure variability; (2) Refined the deglacial WAIS Divide record of Kr isotopes; (3) Investigated the role of pressure variability in firn air transport using firn air models with firn microtomography data and Lattice- Boltzmann modeling; and (4) Investigated how barometric pressure variability in Antarctica is linked to the SAM index and the position/strength of the SH westerlies in past and present climates using GCM and reanalysis data. A key finding was that D86Kr in recent ice samples (e.g. last 50 years) from a broad spatial array of sites in Antarctica and Greenland showed a significant correlation with directly measured barometric pressure variability at the ice core site. This strongly supports the hypothesis that 86Kr can be used as a paleo-proxy for storminess.
Intellectual Merit: The SH westerlies are a key component of the global climate system; they are an important control on the global oceanic overturning circulation and possibly on atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Poleward movement of the SH westerlies during the last deglaciation has been hypothesized, yet evidence from proxy and modeling studies remains inconclusive. The funded work could provide valuable new constraints on deglacial movement of the SH westerlies. This record can be compared to high-resolution CO2 data from the same core, allowing us to test hypotheses that link CO2 to the SH westerlies. Climate proxies are at the heart of paleoclimate research. The funded work has apparently led to the discovery of a completely new proxy, opening up exciting new research possibilities and increasing the scientific value of existing ice cores. Once validated, the 86Kr proxy could be applied to other time periods as well, providing a long-term perspective on the movement of the SH westerlies. The funded work has furthermore provided valuable new insights into firn air transport.
Broader impact: The Southern Ocean is presently an important sink of atmospheric CO2, thereby reducing the warming associated with anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Stratospheric ozone depletion and greenhouse warming have displaced the SH westerlies poleward, with potential consequences for the future magnitude of this oceanic carbon uptake. The funded work may provide a paleo-perspective on past movement of the SH westerlies and its link to atmospheric CO2, which could guide projections of future oceanic CO2 uptake, with strong societal benefits. The awarded funds supported and trained an early-career postdoctoral scholar at OSU, and fostered (international) collaboration. Data from the study will be available to the scientific community and the broad public through recognized data centers. During this project the PI and senior personnel have continued their commitment to public outreach through media interviews and speaking to schools and the public about their work. The PI provides services to the community by chairing the IPICS (International Partnership in Ice Core Sciences) working group and organizing annual PIRE (Partnerships in International Research and Education) workshops.
Gases trapped in ice cores have revealed astonishing things about the greenhouse gas composition of the past atmosphere, including the fact that carbon dioxide concentrations never rose above 300 parts per million during the last 800,000 years. This places today's concentration of 400 parts per million in stark contrast. Furthermore, these gas records show that natural sources of greenhouse gas such as oceans and ecosystems act as amplifiers of climate change by increasing emissions of gases during warmer periods. Such amplification is expected to occur in the future, adding to the human-produced gas burden. The South Pole ice core will build upon these prior findings by expanding the suite of gases to include, for the first time, those potent trace gases that both trapped heat and depleted ozone during the past 40,000 years. The present project on inert gases and methane in the South Pole ice core will improve the dating of this crucial record, to unprecedented precision, so that the relative timing of events can be used to learn about the mechanism of trace gas production and destruction, and consequent climate change amplification. Ultimately, this information will inform predictions of future atmospheric chemical cleansing mechanisms and climate in the context of our rapidly changing atmosphere. This award also engages young people in the excitement of discovery and polar research, helping to entrain the next generations of scientists and educators. Education of graduate students, a young researcher (Buizert), and training of technicians, will add to the nation?s human resource base. <br/> <br/>This award funds the construction of the gas chronology for the South Pole 1500m ice core, using measured inert gases (d15N and d40Ar--Nitrogen and Argon isotope ratios, respectively) and methane in combination with a next-generation firn densification model that treats the stochastic nature of air trapping and the role of impurities on densification. The project addresses fundamental gaps in scientific understanding that limit the accuracy of gas chronologies, specifically a poor knowledge of the controls on ice-core d15N and the possible role of layering and impurities in firn densification. These gaps will be addressed by studying the gas enclosure process in modern firn at the deep core site. The work will comprise the first-ever firn air pumping experiment that has tightly co-located measurements of firn structural properties on the core taken from the same borehole.<br/><br/>The project will test the hypothesis that the lock-in horizon as defined by firn air d15N, CO2, and methane is structurally controlled by impermeable layers, which are in turn created by high-impurity content horizons in which densification is enhanced. Thermal signals will be sought using the inert gas measurements, which improve the temperature record with benefits to the firn densification modeling. Neon, argon, and oxygen will be measured in firn air and a limited number of deep core samples to test whether glacial period layering was enhanced, which could explain low observed d15N in the last glacial period. Drawing on separate volcanic and methane synchronization to well-dated ice cores to create independent ice and gas tie points, independent empirical estimates of the gas age-ice age difference will be made to check the validity of the firn densification model-inert gas approach to calculating the gas age-ice age difference. These points will also be used to test whether the anomalously low d15N seen during the last glacial period in east Antarctic ice cores is due to deep air convection in the firn, or a missing impurity dependence in the firn densification models. <br/><br/>The increased physical understanding gained from these studies, combined with new high-precision measurements, will lead to improved accuracy of the gas chronology of the South Pole ice core, which will enhance the overall science return from this gas-oriented core. This will lead to clarification of timing of atmospheric gas variations and temperature, and aid in efforts to understand the biogeochemical feedbacks among trace gases. These feedbacks bear on the future response of the Earth System to anthropogenic forcing. Ozone-depleting substances will be measured in the South Pole ice core record, and a precise gas chronology will add value. Lastly, by seeking a better understanding of the physics of gas entrapment, the project aims to have an impact on ice-core science in general.
Aydin/1644245<br/><br/>This award supports a project to measure ethane in ice core air extracted from the recently drilled intermediate depth South Pole ice core (SPICECORE). Ethane is an abundant hydrocarbon in the atmosphere. The ice core samples that will be used in this analysis will span about 150 years before present to about 55,000 years before present and therefore, ethane emissions linked to human activities are not a subject of this study. The study will focus on quantifying the variability in the natural sources of ethane and the processes that govern its removal from the atmosphere. A long-term ice core ethane record will provide new knowledge on the chemistry of Earth?s atmosphere during time periods when human influence was either much smaller than present day or non-existent. The broader impacts of this work include education and training of students and a contribution to a better understanding of the chemistry of the atmosphere in the past and how it has been impacted by past changes in climate.<br/><br/>Natural sources that emit ethane are both geologic (e.g. seeps, vents, mud volcanoes etc.) and pyrogenic (wild fires) which is commonly called biomass burning. Ethane is removed from the atmosphere via oxidation reactions. The ice core ethane measurements have great potential as a proxy for gaseous emissions from biomass burning. This is especially true for time periods preceding the industrial revolution when atmospheric variability of trace gases was largely controlled by natural processes. Another objective of this study is to improve understanding of the causes of atmospheric methane variability apparent which are in the existing ice core records. Methane is a simpler hydrocarbon than ethane and more abundant in the atmosphere. Even though the project does not include any methane measurements; the commonalities between the sources and removal of atmospheric ethane and methane mean that ethane measurements can be used to gain insight into the causes of changes in atmospheric methane levels. The broader impacts of the project include partial support for one Ph.D. student and support for undergraduate researchers at UC Irvine. The PIs group currently has 4 undergraduate researchers. The PI and the graduate students in the UCI ice core laboratory regularly participate in on- and off-campus activities such as laboratory tours and lectures directed towards educating high-school students and science teachers, and the local community at large about the scientific value of polar ice cores as an environmental record of our planet's past. The results of this research will be disseminated via peer-review publications and will contribute to policy-relevant activities such as the IPCC Climate Assessment. Data resulting from this project will be archived in a national data repository. This award does not have field work in Antarctica.
Ice-core records are critical to understanding past climate variations. An Antarctic ice core currently being drilled at the South Pole will allow detailed investigation of atmospheric gases and fill an important gap in understanding the pattern of climate variability across Antarctica. Critical to the interpretation of any ice core are: 1) accurate chronologies for both the ice and the trapped gas and 2) demonstration that records from the ice core reliably reflect climate. The proposed research will improve the ice and gas chronologies by making measurements of snow compaction in the upstream catchment in order to constrain age models of the ice. These measurements will be a key data set needed for better understanding and predicting time-varying conditions in the upper part of the ice sheet. The research team will measure the modern spatial gradients in accumulation rate, surface temperature, and water stable isotopes from shallow ice cores in the upstream catchment in order to determine the climate history from the ice-core record. The new ice-flow measurements will make it possible to define the path of ice from upstream to the South Pole ice-core drill site to assess spatial gradients in snowfall and to infer histories of snowfall from internal layers within the ice sheet. The project will be led by an early-career scientist, provide broad training to graduate students, and engage in public outreach on polar science.<br/><br/>Ice-core records of stable isotopes, aerosol-born particles, and atmospheric gases are critical to understanding past climate variations. The proposed research will improve the ice and gas chronologies in the South Pole ice core by making in situ measurements of firn compaction in the upstream catchment to constrain models of the gas-age ice-age difference. The firn measurements will be a key data set needed to form a constitutive relationship for firn, and will drive better understanding and prediction of transient firn evolution. The research team will measure the modern gradients in accumulation rate, surface temperature, and water stable isotopes in the upstream catchment to separate spatial (advection) variations from temporal (climate) variations in the ice-core records. The ice-flow measurements will define the flowline upstream of the drill site, assess spatial gradients in accumulation, and infer histories of accumulation from radar-observed internal layers. Results will directly enhance interpretation of South Pole ice-core records, and also advance understanding of firn densification and drive next-generation firn models.
Ice cores record detailed histories of past climate variations. The South Pole ice core will allow investigation of atmospheric trace gases and fill an important gap in understanding the pattern of climate variability across Antarctica. An accurate timescale that assigns an age to the ice at each depth in the core is essential to interpretation of the ice-core records. This work will use electrical methods to identify volcanic eruptions throughout the past ~40,000 years in the core by detecting the enhanced electrical conductance in those layers due to volcanic impurities in the ice. These eruptions will be pattern-matched to other cores across Antarctica, synchronizing the timing of climate variations among cores and allowing the precise timescales developed for other Antarctic ice cores to be transferred to the South Pole ice core. The well-dated records of volcanic forcing will be combined with records of atmospheric gases, stable water-isotopes, and aerosols to better understand the large natural climate variations of the past 40,000 years. <br/> <br/>The electrical conductance method and dielectric profiling measurements will be made along the length of each section of the South Pole ice core at the National Ice Core Lab. These measurements will help to establish a timescale for the core. Electrical measurements will provide a continuous record of volcanic events for the entire core including through the brittle ice (550-1250m representing ~10,000-20,000 year-old ice) where the core quality and thin annual layers may prevent continuous melt analysis and cause discrete measurements to miss volcanic events. The electrical measurements also produce a 2-D image of the electrical layering on a longitudinal cut surface of each core. These data will be used to identify any irregular or absent layering that would indicate a stratigraphic disturbance in the core. A robust chronology is essential to interpretation of the paleoclimate records from the South Pole ice core. The investigators will engage teachers through talks and webinars with the National Science Teachers Association and will share information with the public at events such as Polar Science Weekend at the Pacific Science Center. Results will be disseminated through publications and conference presentations and the data will be archived and publicly available.
This award supports a three-year effort to study physical properties of the South Pole ice core to help provide a high-time-resolution history of trace gases and other paleoclimatic indicators from an especially cold site with high preservation potential for important signals. The physical-properties studies include visual inspection to identify any flow disturbances and for identifying annual layers and other features, and combined bubble, grain and ice crystal orientation studies to better understand the processes occurring in the ice that affect the climate record and the ice-sheet behavior. Success of these efforts will provide necessary support for dating and quality control to others studying the ice core, as well as determining the climate history of the site, flow state, and key physical processes in ice.<br/><br/>The intellectual merits of the project include better understanding of physical processes, paleoclimatic reconstruction, dating of the ice, and quality assurance. Visual inspection of the core will help identify evidence of flow disturbances that would disrupt the integrity of the climate record and will reveal volcanic horizons and other features of interest. Annual layer counting will be conducted to help estimate accumulation rate over time as recorded in the ice core. Measurements of C-axis fabric, grain size and shapes, and bubble characteristics will provide information about processes occurring in the ice sheet as well as the history of ice flow, current flow state and how the ice is flowing and how easily it will flow in the future. Analysis of this data in conjunction with microCT data will help to reveal grain-scale processes. The broader impacts of the project include support for an early-career, post-doctoral researcher, and improved paleoclimatic data of societal relevance. The results will be incorporated into the active program of education and outreach which have educated many students, members of the public and policy makers through the sharing of information and educational materials about all aspects of ice core science and paleoclimate.