Developing a New Paleoclimate Proxy for Polar and Alpine Glacial Regions Based on Noble Gases
Noble gases in groundwater systems can indicate past climates in ice-free regions through estimation of noble gas temperatures. Traditional noble gas temperatures cannot be derived in ice-covered regions where water is not in contact with the atmosphere. The goal of the proposed work is to take advantage of noble gas properties in ice covered lakes at the ice/water interface to develop a new paleoclimate proxy with the potential to be routinely used in both polar and alpine glacial regions. The evolution of the Taylor Valley lakes is intimately connected to the dynamics of nearby glaciers, as well as the advance and retreat of the Ross Ice Shelf, both of which are dictated by climate change. The perennial ice cover of the lakes form at the water/ice interface and sublimate at the top rendering these lakes ideal to test and develop this new proxy. The proposed research involves conducting an extensive noble gas sampling campaign of lake water, stream water, ice covers and glacial ice. This data set, together with data continuously collected in the area will provide a solid basis to develop, test and refine mathematical models capable of accurately describing heavy noble gas concentration profiles as well as their overall inventory in the lakes over time. These will provide information on the occurrence of major climatic events while simultaneously providing temporal constraints on such events.
The findings of this work will be inserted into a new class that the PI has created at the University of Michigan targeted at non-science majors. It will create research opportunities for 1-2 undergraduates each year and will support a PhD student. The outcomes of this research could have strong societal relevance.
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