Collaborative Research: Developing an Antarctic Tephra Database for Interdisciplinary Paleoclimate Research (AntT)
Many key questions in climate research (e.g. relative timing of climate events in different geographic areas, climate-forcing mechanisms, natural threshold levels in the climate system) are dependent on accurate reconstructions of the temporal and spatial distribution of past rapid climate change events in continental, atmospheric, marine and polar realms. This collaborative interdisciplinary research project aims to consolidate, into a single user-friendly database, information about volcanic products detected in Antarctica. By consolidating information about volcanic sources, and physical and geochemical characteristics of volcanic products, this systematic data collection approach will improve the ability of researchers to identify volcanic ash, or tephra, from specific volcanic eruptions that may be spread over large areas in a geologically instantaneous amount of time. Development of this database will assist in the identification and cross-correlation of time intervals in various paleoclimate archives that contain volcanic layers from often unknown sources. The AntT project relies on a cyberinfrastructure framework developed in house through NSF funded CDI-Type I: CiiWork for data assimilation, interpretation and open distribution model. In addition to collection and integration of existing information about volcanic products, this project will focus on filling the information gaps about unique physico-chemical characteristics of very fine (<3 micrometer) volcanic particles (cryptotephra) that are present in Antarctic ice cores. This component of research will involve improving analytical methodology for detecting cryptotephra layers in ice, and will train a new generation of scientists to apply an array of modern state?of?the-art instrumentation available to the project team.
The recognized importance of tephra in establishing a chronological framework for volcanic and sedimentary successions has already resulted in the development of robust regional tephrochronological frameworks (e.g. Europe, Kamchatka, New Zealand, Western North America). The AntT project will provide this framework for Antarctic tephrochronology, as needed for precise correlation records between Antarctic ice cores (e.g. WAIS Divide, RICE, ITASE) and global paleoclimate archives. The results of AntT will be of particular significance to climatologists, paleoclimatologists, atmospheric chemists, geochemists, climate modelers, solar-terrestrial physicists, environmental statisticians, and policy makers for designing solutions to mitigate or cope with likely future impacts of climate change events on modern society.
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