2023 Arctic

Collaborative Research: AON Network for Observing Transformation of the Greenland Ice Sheet Firn Layer

This project will establish a network of instrumented sites to observe transformation of the Greenland Ice sheet’s percolation zone firn layer. Using the IDDO Hand Auger and Sidewinder, repeat cores will be collected over five years to track density and ice content changes, and instrumentation installed in core holes will monitor firn temperature evolution and compaction of the firn layer. The data from these efforts will be of high value to scientists focused on changes in storage capacity of the firn layer, process details of meltwater infiltration in cold firn, and the influence of firn compaction and melt on satellite-observed ice sheet elevation.

Collaborative Research: GreenDrill: The response of the northern Greenland Ice Sheet to Arctic Warmth - Direct constrains from sub-ice bedrock

The goal of this project is to gather new data to test the sensitivity of the northern Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) and its potential to contribute to sea level rise in the future. Specifically, data from the GreenDrill project will better constrain the response of the GrIS to past periods of warmth and address the hypothesis that the northern GrIS is more sensitive to Arctic warming than the southern GrIS. Using the Agile Sub-Ice Geological Drill and the Winkie Drill, the team will drill through the ice at sites in northern Greenland, sample bedrock obtained from those cores, and analyze a suite of cosmogenic nuclides (Beryllium-10, Aluminum-26, Chlorine-36, Carbon-14, and Neon-21) that can act as signatures of changes to the GrIS margin. These data will deliver direct observations of periods when the GrIS was substantially smaller than today and ice sheet margins retreated inland. Results will be incorporated into a numerical ice sheet model with a built-in cosmogenic nuclide module to identify plausible ice sheet histories. The modeling experiments will help understand the mechanisms and climate forcing underlying past periods of ice sheet retreat and help inform predictions of the future. Based on the melting scenarios, a first-order map of sea level rise fingerprints and inundation scenarios for major port cities will be produced.

Collaborative Research: Investigating the Rate of Potential Biological in Situ Gas Production of CO and CH4 in Arctic Ice

High-depth-resolution records of carbon monoxide (CO), and to a lesser extent methane (CH4), in Arctic ice cores show evidence of non-atmospheric anomalies that are poorly understood. One potential source of such anomalies is biological activity within the ice. Microbes can be active at temperatures well below freezing, and ice cores are subjected to relatively warm temperatures after the ice is extracted from glaciers and ice sheets while they are stored or transported prior to measurement. The project will collect a 150-meter ice core from Summit, Greenland, using the Blue Ice Drill. The project aims to assess the rate of in situ production of CO and methane CH4 in Arctic ice and relate in situ gas production to ice storage conditions, chemistry, and microbiology.

Collaborative Research: P2C2-- Ice Core and Firn Aquifer Studies at Combatant Col, British Columbia, Canada

This project aims to recover an ice core at Combatant Col, BC, Canada to reconstruct hydroclimate variability over the last 500 years. Previous work at Combatant Col demonstrates preservation of annual stratigraphy, water-isotope and geochemical records reflecting important climate and environmental variables including atmospheric circulation, snow accumulation, fire activity, and trans-Pacific dust transport. Existing North Pacific ice cores are located exclusively in Alaska and the Yukon. Combatant Col significantly expands the spatial coverage of ice core records, while simultaneously providing a unique record of hydroclimate in southwestern British Columbia. This project will conduct detailed radar surveys and ice-flow modeling to better understand the glaciological setting and to select the optimal site for drilling. During the 2022 field season, radar work and shallowing coring using the IDDO Hand Auger will be conducted. During the 2023 field season, a core to bedrock will be retrieved using the Electrothermal Drill. Analysis of the ice core will include water isotope ratios and visual stratigraphy. In combination with high-resolution radar imaging, the core from Combatant Col will be used to determine whether the observed firn-aquifer at this site (liquid water is stored perennially above the firn-ice transition) has been a persistent feature at the site, or whether it has formed recently, and to determine its impact on glacier energy balance and dynamics. The core will be archived and made available for additional analyses by the ice core research community.

NSFGEO-NERC: Collaborative Research: Chemistry and Biology under Low Flow Hydrologic Conditions Beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet Revealed through Naturally Emerging Subglacial Water

Weathering is an important process that releases nutrients that are essential for life from rocks and minerals in the Earth’s surface. This project seeks to understand the effect of large glaciers on weathering processes beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet and the consequences for life. During summer, nutrients and other products are flushed out of the Greenland Ice Sheet with water from melting ice. While these products have been sampled in spring and summer, it is not known how weathering processes are different during winter. In this project, researchers will sample the seasonal ice that forms in front of two of Greenland’s glacial outlets, Isunnguata Sermia and Leverett Glacier, during the freezing months to assess the chemistry and microbiology processes that reflect wintertime conditions beneath the ice sheet – periods when input of fresh meltwater is minimal. These samples will increase knowledge of winter conditions under the Greenland Ice Sheet and help better understand the interior portions of the ice sheet which are largely inaccessible. Such information will help in assessing past conditions, when colder atmospheric conditions resulted in minimal meltwater input through the ice sheet and to the glacial bed. These analyses will inform understanding of the role of glaciers on earth’s nutrient cycles presently, under past ice age conditions, and in a future deglaciating world.

  • Point of Contact:

    Kathy Licht, Indiana University.

  • Schedule: 4/1/2023 - 4/14/2023 (estimated) and 9/1/2023 – 9/14/2023 (estimated)
  • Equipment: SIPRE Hand Auger

Southeast Greenland Surface Mass Balance

Using the Stampfli Drill and a hand auger and Sidewinder, this project will drill shallow firn cores from 2-3 sites in Southeast Greenland. The goal of the project is to investigate decadal variability in accumulation and surface melt intensity and investigate the impact of this variability on Helheim Glacier behavior. The researchers plan to revisit two sites that they last drilled in 2003 as well as an additional lower elevation site as time/resources allow. All drilling will be done during day trips from Kulusuk supported by Twin Otter.