Project Information
Synchronizing the WAIS Divide and Greenland Ice Cores from 30-65 ka BP using high-resolution 10Be measurements
Start Date:
End Date:
WAIS Divide Ice Core
The award supports a project to use existing samples from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide ice core to align its timescale with that of the Greenland ice cores using common chronological markers. The upper 2850 m of the WAIS Divide core, which was drilled to a depth of 3405 m, has been dated with high precision. The timescale of the remaining (bottom) 550 m of the core has larger uncertainties, limiting our understanding of the timing of abrupt climate events in Antarctica relative to those in Greenland during the last ice age. The intellectual merit of this project is to further constrain the relative timing of these abrupt climate events in Greenland and Antarctica to obtain crucial insight into the underlying mechanism. The main objective of this project is to improve the current timescale of the WAIS Divide core from 31,000 to 65,000 years ago by synchronizing this core with the Greenland ice cores using common signals in Beryllium-10, a radioactive isotope of Be that is produced in the atmosphere by cosmic rays and is deposited onto the snow within 1-2 years of its production. The 10Be flux is largely independent of climate signals since its production varies with solar activity and the geomagnetic field. This project will further strengthen collaborations between the PI’s in Berkeley and Purdue with ice core researchers in the US and Europe, involve undergraduate students in many aspects of its research, and continue out-reach to under-represented students. The direct ice-to-ice synchronization of the WAIS Divide ice core with the Greenland Ice Core Chronology (GICC05) using cosmogenic 10Be is expected to reduce the uncertainty in the relative timing of more than 20 abrupt climate events in Greenland and Antarctica to a few decades. To achieve this goal we will obtain a continuous high-resolution record of 10Be in the WAIS Divide core from 2850 to 3390 m depth, and compare the obtained 10Be record with existing 10Be records of the Greenland ice cores, including GISP2 and NGRIP. We will separate 10Be from ~1000 ice samples of the WAIS Divide core and measure the 10Be concentration in each sample using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). Broader impacts of the 10Be measurements are that they will also provide information on the Laschamp event, a ~2000 year long period of low geomagnetic field strength around 41,000 years ago, and improve the calibration of the 14C dating method for organic samples older than 30,000 years. The broader impacts of the project include (1) the involvement and training of undergraduate students in ice core research and accelerator mass spectrometry measurements, (2) the incorporation of ice core and climate research into ongoing outreach programs at Purdue University and Berkeley SSL, (3) better understanding of abrupt climate changes in the past will improve our ability to predict future climate change, (4) evaluating the possible threat of a future geomagnetic excursion in the next few hundred years. This award does not require support in Antarctica.
Person Role
Welten, Kees Investigator and contact
Caffee, Marc Co-Investigator
Antarctic Glaciology Award # 1644128
Antarctic Glaciology Award # 1644094
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
0 (raw data)
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
USAP-DC WAIS Divide Core 10Be data, 2850-3240 m ASCII exists
Platforms and Instruments

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