The Relationship between Climate and Ice Rheology at Dome C, East Antarctica
This award supports a project to study of the relationship between fabric and climate for the ice near the EPICA Dome C ice core site, East Antarctica. The work builds on an ongoing study at Siple Dome, West Antarctica and takes advantage of collaborations with European scientists and access to the Dome C borehole to make measurements of sonic velocity. The intellectual merit of the project is that a better understanding of how fabric preserves past climate information can improve models of the ice flow near ice core sites and the interpreta-tion of ice core data (particularly paleo-accumulation), and it may allow us to extract climate information directly from fabric data. In addition, because ice deformation is sensitive to the orientation of crystals, ice flow patterns are sensitive to the fabric. Thus, variations in the fabric between glacial and interglacial ice can affect how ice deforms and how fabric in the ice sheet develops. The Dome C site is particularly important for answering these questions, because the ice core shows evidence of eight glacial cycles, not just one as found at Siple Dome or the Greenland sites. The research will improve the understanding of the proxy relationship between sonic-velocity data and fabric; will help to model the pattern of ice flow caused by the fabric variation between glacial and interglacial time periods using these data, existing ice core chemistry and existing and new thin section data, improved surface strain data, and borehole deformation data; and will help to better understand the positive feedback mechanism that enhances fabric (and corresponding rheological) variability through a focused study of several climate transitions and the associated fabric changes. Borehole compressional-wave sonic-velocity will be measured which will complement the sonic-velocity data that already exist for boreholes in Greenland and West Antarctica. These will be the first sonic-velocity measurements in East Antarctica and the first measurements that extend for more than a single glacial/interglacial transition. The project will ultimately contribute to better interpretation of ice core records for both paleoclimate studies and for ice flow history, both of which connect to the broader questions of the role of ice in the climate system. This project will also strengthen the international collaborations within the paleoclimate and ice sheet modeling communities. This project will partially support a graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who is currently working on modeling ice including anisotropy and it will support the growth of a young scientist through a Post-Doc position. This Post Doc will gain important experience collaborating with the EPICA scientists in studying the climate-fabric relationship. Erin Pettit is active in field-science education for high school students, under-graduates, teachers, and adults. This project will help support the continued development and enhancement of Girls on Ice a program that encourages young women to explore science and the natural world.
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