Project Information
Self-consistent Ice Dynamics, Accumulation, Delta-age, and Interpolation of Sparse Age Data using an Inverse Approach

This award supports a project to integrate three lines of glaciology research, previously treated independently. First, internal layers in ice sheets, detected by ice-penetrating radar, retain information about past spatial and temporal patterns of ice accumulation. Ice-flow modelers can recover this information, using geophysical inverse methods; however, the ages of the layers must be known, through interpolation where they intersect a well-dated ice core.
Second, concentrations of methane and some other atmospheric constituents vary through time as climate changes. However, the atmosphere is always well mixed, and concentrations are similar world-wide at any one time, so gas variations from an undated core can be correlated with those in a well-dated core such as GISP2. Because air in near-surface firn mixes readily with the atmosphere above, the air that is trapped in bubbles deep in the firn is typically hundreds to thousands of years younger than that firn. Gas geochemists must calculate this age difference, called delta-age, with a firn-densification model before the ice enclosing the gas can be dated accurately. To calculate delta-age, they must know the temperature and the snow accumulation rate at the time and place where the snow fell. Third, gases can be correlated between cores only at times when the atmosphere changed, so ice-core dates must be interpolated at depths between the sparse dated points. Simplistic interpolation schemes can create undesirable artifacts in the depth-age profile. The intellectual merit of this project is that it will develop new interpolation methods that calculate layer thinning over time due to ice-flow mechanics. Accurate interpolation also requires a spatial and temporal accumulation history. These three issues are coupled through accumulation patterns and ice-core dates. This project will develop an integrated inversion procedure to solve all three problems simultaneously. The new method will incorporate ice-penetrating radar profile data and ice-core data, and will find self-consistent: spatial/temporal accumulation patterns; delta-age profiles for ice cores; and reliably interpolated depth-age profiles. The project will then: recalculate the depth-age profile at Byrd Station, Antarctica; provide a preliminary depth-age at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in the initial stages of drilling, using radar layers with estimated ages traced from Byrd Station; and generate a self-consistent depth-age relationship for Taylor Dome, Antarctica over the past 20ka, where low accumulation has created uncertainty in dating, accumulation, and controversy over delta-age estimates. The broader impacts of the project are that it will support the PhD research of a female graduate student, and her continued outreach work with Making Connections, a non-profit program through the University of Washington Women's Center, which matches professional women mentors with minority high-school women interested in mathematics and science, disciplines where they are traditionally under-represented. The graduate student will also work with Girls on Ice, a ten-day glacier field program, taught by women scientist instructors, emphasizing scientific observation through immersion, leadership skills and safety awareness.
Person Role
Carns, Regina Co-Investigator
Hay, Mike Co-Investigator
Waddington, Edwin D. Investigator
Antarctic Glaciology Award # 0636997
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
Not provided

This project has been viewed 12 times since May 2019 (based on unique date-IP combinations)