Climatology, Meteorology, and Microbial Metabolism in Ice with Dust Loggers and Fluorimetry
WAIS Divide Ice Core
This award supports a project to use two new scanning fluorimeters to map microbial concentrations vs depth in the WAIS Divide ice core as portions of it become available at NICL, and selected portions of the GISP2 ice core for inter-hemispheric comparison. Ground-truth calibrations with microbes in ice show that the instruments are sensitive to a single cell and can scan the full length of a 1-meter core at 300-micron intervals in two minutes. The goals of these studies will be to exploit the discovery that microbes are transported onto ice, in clumps, several times per year and that at rare intervals (not periodically) of ~104 years, a much higher flux, sometimes lasting >1 decade, reaches the ice. From variations ranging from seasonal to millennial to glacial scale in the arrival time distribution of phototrophs, methanogens, and total microbes in the Antarctic and Arctic ice, the investigators will attempt to determine oceanic and terrestrial sources of these microbes and will look for correlations of microbial bursts with dust concentration and temperature proxies. In addition the project will follow up on the discovery that the rare instances of very high microbial flux account for some of the"gas artifacts" in ice cores - isolated spikes of excess CH4 and N2O that have been discarded by others in previous climate studies. The intellectual merit of this project is that it will exploit scanning fluorimetry of microbes as a powerful new tool for studies ranging from meteorology to climatology to biology, especially when combined with mapping of dust, gases, and major element chemistry in ice cores. In 2010-11 the WAIS Divide borehole will be logged with the latest version of the dust logger. The log will provide mm-scale depth resolution of dust concentration and of volcanic ash layers down the entire depth of the borehole. The locations of ash layers in the ice will be determined and chemical analyses of the ash will be analyzed in order to determine provenance. By comparing data from the WAIS Divide borehole with data from other boreholes and with chemical data (obtained by others) on volcanic layers, the researchers will examine the relationship between the timing of volcanic eruptions and abrupt climate change. Results from this project with the scanning fluorimeters and the dust logger could have applications to planetary missions, borehole oceanography, limnology, meteorology, climate, volcanology, and ancient life in ice. A deeper understanding of the causes of abrupt climate change, including a causal relationship with volcanic explosivity, would enable a better understanding of the adverse effects on climate. The broader impact of the project is that it will provide training to students and post-docs from the U. S. and other countries.
Data Management Plan
None in the Database