Collaborative Research: Constructing an Ultra-high Resolution Atmospheric Methane Record for the Last 140,000 Years from WAIS Divide Core.
WAIS Divide Ice Core
This award supports a project to develop a high-resolution (every 50 yr) methane data set that will play a pivotal role in developing the timescale for the new deep ice core being drilled at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divde) site as well as providing a common stratigraphic framework for comparing climate records from Greenland and WAIS Divide. Certain key intervals will be measured at even higher resolution to assist in precisely defining the phasing of abrupt climate change between the northern and southern hemispheres. Concurrent analysis of a suit of samples from both the WAIS Divide and GISP2 ice cores throughout the last 110kyr is also proposed, to establish the inter-hemispheric methane gradient which will be used to identify geographic areas responsible for the climate-related methane emission changes. A large gas measurement inter-calibration of numerous laboratories, utilizing both compressed air cylinders and WAIS Divide ice core samples, will also be performed. The intellectual merit of the proposed work is that it will provide the chronological control needed to examine the timing of changes in climate proxies, and critical chronological ties to the Greenland ice core records via methane variations. In addition, the project addresses the question of what methane sources were active during the ice age and will help to answer the fundamental question of what part of the biosphere controlled past methane variations. The broader impact of the proposed work is that it will directly benefit all ice core paleoclimate research and will impact the paleoclimate studies that rely on ice core timescales for correlation purposes. The project will also support a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University who will have the opportunity to be involved in a major new ice coring effort with international elements. Undergraduates at Penn State will gain valuable laboratory experience and participate fully in the project. The proposed work will underpin the WAIS Divide chronology, which will be fundamental to all graduate student projects that involve the core. The international inter-calibration effort will strengthen ties between research institutions on four continents and will be conducted as part of the International Polar Year research agenda.
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