Upcoming Fieldwork

2023 Arctic

  • 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Joerg Schaefer, Columbia University. Jason Briner, University of Buffalo.

    Schedule: TBD
  • 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Nathan Chellman, Desert Research Institute. Joe McConnell, Desert Research Institute.

    Schedule: 6/15/2023 – 7/7/2023 (estimated)
    Equipment: Blue Ice Drill
  • 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Peter Neff, University of Washington. Eric Steig, University of Washington.

    Schedule: 6/15/2023 - 7/5/2023 (estimated)
  • 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
  • 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Joel Harper, University of Montana. Toby Meierbachtol, University of Montana.

    Schedule: 5/1/2023 - 6/1/2023 (estimated)
  • 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    Schedule: April 2023 (estimated)

2023-2024 Antarctic

  • Collaborative Research: EAGER: Dating Glacier Retreat and Readvance near Mount Waesche, West Antarctica

    Previous field expeditions to the Mt. Waesche volcano in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica, used ground-penetrating radar to map the area's sub-ice topography and internal glacial layering. These radar profiles revealed discontinuities within the ice that represent lower ice levels that may have occurred in the past. This project aims to enhance the team’s rock core drilling program at Mount Waesche (see Constraining West Antarctic Ice Sheet Elevation during the last Interglacial) by dating the discontinuities in the ice. Using the Badger-Eclipse Drill, the team will collect ice cores from above and below the discontinuities to constrain the ages of the discontinuities. Isotopic and tephra analysis will be used to provide age constraints on the ice cores. These data will be correlated with other, well-dated West Antarctic ice cores to obtain a local chronology and date the discontinuities. This exploratory work aims to provide data that complement the results from subglacial rock cores to better constrain surface-elevation change, including both retreat and readvance, since the last interglacial.

    Point of Contact:

    Seth Campbell, University of Maine

    Schedule: 11/15/2023 - 01/31/2024 (estimated)
  • NSF-NERC: Ground Geophysics Survey of Thwaites Glacier

    This project contributes to the joint initiative launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to substantially improve decadal and longer-term projections of ice loss and sea-level rise originating from Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. The objectives of the project are to learn whether basal conditions allow for rapid retreat of the Thwaites Glacier grounding line or whether retreat may re-stabilize near its current grounding line. These objectives will be achieved by using dedicated ice-flow modeling to guide targeted field surveys and experiments over two seasons, and to measure the most important unknown quantities and incorporate them into the models. Numerical models will be used to generate hypotheses for basal conditions that are testable through geophysical surveys and to project future behavior of Thwaites Glacier after assimilating the resulting data. The geophysical methods include seismic, radar, gravity, and electrical surveys that together will allow for a fuller characterization of the bed. The project will conduct field surveys in areas representative of different parts of the glacier, including across the margins, near the grounding line, and along the central axis of the glacier into its catchment. The Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill and Small Hot Water Drill will be used to create the shot holes required for the seismic measurements.

    Point of Contact:

    Sridhar Anandakrishnan, Penn State University. Leigh Stearns, University of Kansas. Richard Alley, Penn State University. Knut Christianson, University of Washington. Lucas Zoet, University of Wisconsin

    Schedule: 11/15/2023 - 01/15/2024 (estimated)
  • Collaborative Research: A New Approach to Firn Evolution using the Taylor Dome Natural Laboratory

    The transformation of snow into firn and then glacial ice is a fundamental process in glaciology. This project will introduce a new combination of firn datasets designed to lead to the development of next-generation, physics-based firn models. Advances in ice-core science and satellite altimetry demand firn models that can reliably simulate firn evolution in a range of climatic conditions, in a changing climate, and on long- and short-time scales. Current firn-compaction models are largely based on a steady-state assumption and tuned to particular geographical locations. Advancing beyond these models requires (1) measuring current firn-compaction rates (2) measuring grain-scale microstructures that play a crucial role in firn compaction, and (3) quantifying processes driving evolution of those microstructures. To decouple firn’s sensitivities to accumulation and temperature, the team will measure in situ strain rates by two independent methods and observe trends in microstructure in cores from sites spanning the accumulation gradient at Taylor Dome, while maintaining the same average temperature. The team will assess the ability of phase-sensitive radar to remotely measure firn-compaction rates, potentially simplifying future in situ measurements. This work will create a roadmap for collecting future microstructural data spanning key areas of temperature-accumulation space and simplify future collaborations through the availability of an open-source Community Firn Model.

    Point of Contact:

    Kaitlin Keegan, University of Nevada, Reno.

    Schedule: 11/17/2023 - 01/31/2024 (estimated)
  • Center for OLDest Ice Exploration (COLDEX)

    Cores drilled through the Antarctic ice sheet provide a remarkable window on the evolution of Earth’s climate and unique samples of the ancient atmosphere. The clear link between greenhouse gases and climate revealed by ice cores underpins much of the scientific understanding of climate change. Unfortunately, the existing data do not extend far enough back in time to reveal key features of climates warmer than today. COLDEX, the Center for Oldest Ice Exploration, will solve this problem by exploring Antarctica for sites to collect the oldest possible record of past climate recorded in the ice sheet.

    This component of COLDEX will recover a suite of shallow (16 x < 200 m) ice cores from the Allan Hills and other Antarctic Blue Ice Areas (BIAs) that contribute towards our understanding of how Earth's climate system operated during warmer periods in the past and why the periodicity of glacial cycles lengthened from 40,000 to 100,000 years approximately 1 million years ago. These ice cores will be dated using a newly developed array of dating methods to establish a preliminary depth/age time scale. Subsections of the cores will be imaged and analyzed for stratigraphic orientation using ECM and a suite paleoclimate properties (e.g. CO2, CH4, O2/N2/Ar, water isotopes, etc.).

    Point of Contact:

    Ed Brook, Oregon State University.

    Schedule: 11/01/2023 - 1/31/2024
  • Collaborative Research: Constraining West Antarctic Ice Sheet Elevation during the last Interglacial

    This project will collect a novel dataset to determine how the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) responded to a warmer climate during the last interglacial period (~125,000 years ago) by reconstructing the glacial history at the Mt. Waesche volcano in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica. The researchers will use the Winkie Drill to drill through the ice sheet and recover bedrock that can be analyzed for its surface exposure history to help determine when the surface became overridden by the ice sheet. Reconstructing WAIS geometry when the ice sheet was smaller than present is difficult, and data are lacking because the evidence lies beneath the present ice sheet. The scientists will use the Winkie Drill to drill through the ice sheet and recover bedrock that can be analyzed for its surface exposure history to help determine when the surface became overridden by the ice sheet. The research will provide constraints on the past maximum and minimum spatial extent of WAIS during the last glacial-interglacial cycle.

    Point of Contact:

    Jerry Mitrovica, Harvard University. Matthew Zimmerer, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Seth Campbell, University of Maine

    Schedule: 11/1/2023 - 1/1/2024 (estimated)
    Equipment: Winkie Drill

2024 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Joel Harper, University of Montana. Toby Meierbachtol, University of Montana.

    Schedule: 5/1/2024 - 6/1/2024 (estimated)
  • 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: 4/1/2024 - 4/14/2024 (estimated)
    Equipment: SIPRE Hand Auger
  • 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Joerg Schaefer, Columbia University. Jason Briner, University of Buffalo.

    Schedule: TBD

2024-2025 Antarctic

  • Center for OLDest Ice Exploration (COLDEX)

    Cores drilled through the Antarctic ice sheet provide a remarkable window on the evolution of Earth’s climate and unique samples of the ancient atmosphere. The clear link between greenhouse gases and climate revealed by ice cores underpins much of the scientific understanding of climate change. Unfortunately, the existing data do not extend far enough back in time to reveal key features of climates warmer than today. COLDEX, the Center for Oldest Ice Exploration, will solve this problem by exploring Antarctica for sites to collect the oldest possible record of past climate recorded in the ice sheet.

    This component of COLDEX will recover a suite of shallow (16 x < 200 m) ice cores from the Allan Hills and other Antarctic Blue Ice Areas (BIAs) that contribute towards our understanding of how Earth's climate system operated during warmer periods in the past and why the periodicity of glacial cycles lengthened from 40,000 to 100,000 years approximately 1 million years ago. These ice cores will be dated using a newly developed array of dating methods to establish a preliminary depth/age time scale. Subsections of the cores will be imaged and analyzed for stratigraphic orientation using ECM and a suite paleoclimate properties (e.g. CO2, CH4, O2/N2/Ar, water isotopes, etc.).

    Point of Contact:

    Ed Brook, Oregon State University.

    Schedule: 11/01/2024 - 1/31/2025
  • Collaborative Research: An Ice Core from Hercules Dome, East Antarctica

    The goal of this project is to drill and recover an ice core from Hercules Dome, Antarctica. The geographic setting of Hercules Dome makes it well-situated to investigate changes in the size of the West Antarctic ice sheet over long time periods. The base of the West Antarctic ice sheet lies below sea level, which makes this part of Antarctica vulnerable to melting from the relatively warm deep water of the Southern Ocean. An important research question is whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during Earth's last prolonged warm period, about 125,000 years ago, when the ocean was warmer and sea level was several meters higher than today. Evidence for or against such a collapse will be recorded in the chemistry and physical properties of the ice.

    Hercules Dome is located at the edge of the East Antarctic ice sheet, south of the Transantarctic Mountains at 86 degrees South, 105 degrees West. Glaciological conditions at Hercules Dome are simple, with well-defined layering to the bed, optimal for the recovery of a deep ice core reaching to the last interglacial period. An ice core from Hercules Dome will provide a research opportunity for ice-core analysts and others to make progress on a number of science priorities, including the environmental conditions of the last interglacial period, the history of gases and aerosols, and the magnitude and timing of changes in temperature and snow accumulation over the last 150,000 years. Together with the network of ice cores obtained by U.S. and international researchers over the last few decades, results from Hercules Dome will yield improved estimates of the boundary conditions necessary for the implementation and validation of ice-sheet models critical to the projection of future Antarctic ice-sheet change and sea level.

    Point of Contact:

    Eric Steig, University of Washington. Murat Aydin, University of California Irvine. TJ Fudge, University of Washington. Heidi Roop, University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Joe Souney, University of New Hampshire.

    Schedule: 10/29/2024 - 02/02/2025
    Equipment: Foro 3000 Drill

2025 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Joel Harper, University of Montana. Toby Meierbachtol, University of Montana.

    Schedule: 5/1/2025 - 6/1/2025 (estimated)

2025-2026 Antarctic

  • Center for OLDest Ice Exploration (COLDEX)

    Cores drilled through the Antarctic ice sheet provide a remarkable window on the evolution of Earth’s climate and unique samples of the ancient atmosphere. The clear link between greenhouse gases and climate revealed by ice cores underpins much of the scientific understanding of climate change. Unfortunately, the existing data do not extend far enough back in time to reveal key features of climates warmer than today. COLDEX, the Center for Oldest Ice Exploration, will solve this problem by exploring Antarctica for sites to collect the oldest possible record of past climate recorded in the ice sheet.

    This component of COLDEX will recover a suite of shallow (16 x < 200 m) ice cores from the Allan Hills and other Antarctic Blue Ice Areas (BIAs) that contribute towards our understanding of how Earth's climate system operated during warmer periods in the past and why the periodicity of glacial cycles lengthened from 40,000 to 100,000 years approximately 1 million years ago. These ice cores will be dated using a newly developed array of dating methods to establish a preliminary depth/age time scale. Subsections of the cores will be imaged and analyzed for stratigraphic orientation using ECM and a suite paleoclimate properties (e.g. CO2, CH4, O2/N2/Ar, water isotopes, etc.).

    Point of Contact:

    Ed Brook, Oregon State University.

    Schedule: 11/01/2025 - 1/31/2026
  • Collaborative Research: An Ice Core from Hercules Dome, East Antarctica

    The goal of this project is to drill and recover an ice core from Hercules Dome, Antarctica. The geographic setting of Hercules Dome makes it well-situated to investigate changes in the size of the West Antarctic ice sheet over long time periods. The base of the West Antarctic ice sheet lies below sea level, which makes this part of Antarctica vulnerable to melting from the relatively warm deep water of the Southern Ocean. An important research question is whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during Earth's last prolonged warm period, about 125,000 years ago, when the ocean was warmer and sea level was several meters higher than today. Evidence for or against such a collapse will be recorded in the chemistry and physical properties of the ice.

    Hercules Dome is located at the edge of the East Antarctic ice sheet, south of the Transantarctic Mountains at 86 degrees South, 105 degrees West. Glaciological conditions at Hercules Dome are simple, with well-defined layering to the bed, optimal for the recovery of a deep ice core reaching to the last interglacial period. An ice core from Hercules Dome will provide a research opportunity for ice-core analysts and others to make progress on a number of science priorities, including the environmental conditions of the last interglacial period, the history of gases and aerosols, and the magnitude and timing of changes in temperature and snow accumulation over the last 150,000 years. Together with the network of ice cores obtained by U.S. and international researchers over the last few decades, results from Hercules Dome will yield improved estimates of the boundary conditions necessary for the implementation and validation of ice-sheet models critical to the projection of future Antarctic ice-sheet change and sea level.

    Point of Contact:

    Eric Steig, University of Washington. Murat Aydin, University of California Irvine. TJ Fudge, University of Washington. Heidi Roop, University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Joe Souney, University of New Hampshire.

    Schedule: 10/29/2025 - 02/02/2026
    Equipment: Foro 3000 Drill

2026 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.

    Point of Contact:

    Joel Harper, University of Montana. Toby Meierbachtol, University of Montana.

    Schedule: 5/1/2026 - 6/1/2026 (estimated)