Collaborative Research: The Taylor Glacier, Antarctica, Horizontal Ice Core: Exploring changes in the Natural Methane Budget in a Warming World and Expanding the Paleo-archive
Taylor Dome Ice Core
This award supports a project to use the Taylor Glacier, Antarctica, ablation zone to collect ice samples for a range of paleoenvironmental studies. A record of carbon-14 of atmospheric methane (14CH4) will be obtained for the last deglaciation and the Early Holocene, together with a supporting record of CH4 stable isotopes. In-situ cosmogenic 14C content and partitioning of 14C between different species (14CH4, C-14 carbon monoxide (14CO) and C-14 carbon dioxide (14CO2)) will be determined with unprecedented precision in ice from the surface down to ~67 m. Further age-mapping of the ablating ice stratigraphy will take place using a combination of CH4, CO2, δ18O of oxygen gas and H2O stable isotopes. High precision, high-resolution records of CO2, δ13C of CO2, nitrous oxide (N2O) and N2O isotopes will be obtained for the last deglaciation and intervals during the last glacial period. The potential of 14CO2 and Krypton-81 (81Kr) as absolute dating tools for glacial ice will be investigated. The intellectual merit of proposed work includes the fact that the response of natural methane sources to continuing global warming is uncertain, and available evidence is insufficient to rule out the possibility of catastrophic releases from large 14C-depleted reservoirs such as CH4 clathrates and permafrost. The proposed paleoatmospheric 14CH4 record will improve our understanding of the possible magnitude and timing of CH4 release from these reservoirs during a large climatic warming. A thorough understanding of in-situ cosmogenic 14C in glacial ice (production rates by different mechanisms and partitioning between species) is currently lacking. Such an understanding will likely enable the use of in-situ 14CO in ice at accumulation sites as a reliable, uncomplicated tracer of the past cosmic ray flux and possibly past solar activity, as well as the use of 14CO2 at both ice accumulation and ice ablation sites as an absolute dating tool. Significant gaps remain in our understanding of the natural carbon cycle, as well as in its responses to global climate change. The proposed high-resolution, high-precision records of δ13C of CO2 would provide new information on carbon cycle changes both during times of rising CO2 in a warming climate and falling CO2 in a cooling climate. N2O is an important greenhouse gas that increased by ~30% during the last deglaciation. The causes of this increase are still largely uncertain, and the proposed high-precision record of N2O concentration and isotopes would provide further insights into N2O source changes in a warming world. The broader impacts of proposed work include an improvement in our understanding of the response of these greenhouse gas budgets to global warming and inform societally important model projections of future climate change. The continued age-mapping of Taylor Glacier ablation ice will add value to this high-quality, easily accessible archive of natural environmental variability. Establishing 14CO as a robust new tracer for past cosmic ray flux would inform paleoclimate studies and constitute a valuable contribution to the study of the societally important issue of climate change. The proposed work will contribute to the development of new laboratory and field analytical systems. The data from the study will be made available to the scientific community and the broad public through the NSIDC and NOAA Paleoclimatology data centers. 1 graduate student each will be trained at UR, OSU and SIO, and the work will contribute to the training of a postdoc at OSU. 3 UR undergraduates will be involved in fieldwork and research. The work will support a new, junior UR faculty member, Petrenko. All PIs have a strong history of and commitment to scientific outreach in the forms of media interviews, participation in filming of field projects, as well as speaking to schools and the public about their research, and will continue these activities as part of the proposed work. This award has field work in Antarctica.
Data Management Plan
None in the Database