Project Information
WAIS DIVIDE - High Temporal Resolution Black Carbon Record of Southern Hemisphere Biomass Burning
WAIS Divide Ice Core

This award supports a project to develop a 2,000-year high-temporal resolution record of biomass burning from the analysis of black carbon in the WAIS Divide bedrock ice core. Pilot data for the WAIS WD05A core demonstrates that we now have the ability to reconstruct this record with minimal impact on the amount of ice available for other projects. The intellectual merit of this project is that black carbon (BC) aerosols result solely from combustion and play a critical but poorly quantified role in global climate forcing and the carbon cycle. When incorporated into snow and ice, BC increases absorption of solar radiation making seasonal snow packs, mountain glaciers, polar ice sheets, and sea ice much more vulnerable to climate warming. BC emissions in the Southern Hemisphere are dominated by biomass burning in the tropical regions of Southern Africa, South America and South Asia. Biomass burning, which results from both climate and human activities, alters the atmospheric composition of greenhouse gases, aerosols and perturbs key biogeochemical cycles. A long-term record of biomass burning is needed to aid in the interpretation of ice core gas composition and will provide important information regarding human impacts on the environment and climate before instrumental records. The broader impacts of the project are that it represents a paradigm shift in our ability to reconstruct the history of fire from ice core records and to understand its impact on atmospheric chemistry and climate over millennial time scales. This type of data is especially needed to drive global circulation model simulations of black carbon aerosols, which have been found to be an important component of global warming and which may be perturbing the hydrologic cycle. The project will also employ undergraduate students and is committed to attracting underrepresented groups to the physical sciences. The project?s outreach component will be conducted as part of the WAIS project outreach program and will reach a wide audience.
Person Role
Brook, Edward J. Co-Investigator
McConnell, Joseph Co-Investigator
Mitchell, Logan E Investigator
Sowers, Todd A. Co-Investigator
Taylor, Kendrick C. Co-Investigator
Antarctic Glaciology Award # 0739780
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
Not provided
  1. Cole-Dai, J., D.G. Ferris, A.L. Lanciki, J. Savarino, and J.R. McConnell (2013) Two climate-impacting volcanic eruptions in the 1450s C.E. found in a bipolar, sub-annually dated 800-year ice core record, J. Geophys. Res., 118, 7459-7466. (doi:10.1002/jgrd.50587)

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