EAGER: Feasibility of Reconstructing the Atmospheric History of Molecular Hydrogen from Antarctic Ice
H2 in ice cores
Hydrogen (H2) is one of the most abundant trace gases in the atmosphere, with a mean level of 500 ppb and an atmospheric lifetime of about two years. Hydrogen has an impact on both air quality and climate, due to its role as a precursor for tropospheric ozone and stratospheric water vapor. Projections indicate that a future "hydrogen economy" would increase hydrogen emissions. Understanding of the atmospheric hydrogen budget is largely based on a 30-year record of surface air measurements, but there are no long-term records with which to assess either: 1) the influence of climate change on atmospheric hydrogen, or 2) the extent to which humans have impacted the hydrogen budget. Polar ice core records of hydrogen will advance our understanding of the atmospheric hydrogen cycle and provide a stronger basis for projecting future changes to atmospheric levels of hydrogen and their impacts.
The research will involve laboratory work to enable the collection and analysis of hydrogen in polar ice cores. Hydrogen is a highly diffusive molecule and, unlike most other atmospheric gases, diffusion of hydrogen in ice is so rapid that ice samples must be stored in impermeable containers immediately upon drilling and recovery. This project will: 1) construct a laboratory system for extracting and analyzing hydrogen in polar ice, 2) develop and test materials and construction designs for vessels to store ice core samples in the field, and 3) test the method on samples of opportunity previously stored in the field. The goal of this project is a proven, cost-effective design for storage flasks to be fabricated for use on future polar ice coring projects. This project will support the dissertation research of a graduate student in the UC Irvine Department of Earth System Science.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
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