Climate History and Flow Processes from Physical Analyses of the SPICECORE South Pole Ice Core
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.
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.
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