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Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar

Wednesday, April 10, 2024
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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South Mudd 365
New ice cores from coastal West Antarctica to constrain climate forcing on Amundsen Sea regional ice shelves and outlet glaciers: initiating a Ross-Amundsen Ice Core Array (RAICA)
Peter Neff, University of Minnesota,

The Pacific coastline of West Antarctica is changing rapidly, experiencing mass loss and retreat of ice shelves critical for stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). Despite this observed change due to complex ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions perturbed by combined internal and forced climate processes, there remains a lack of terrestrial climate records and surface mass balance observations along the ~1900-kilometer-long coastline from Ross Ice Shelf to Pine Island Glacier. Ice rises, regions of grounded ice within ice shelves, are ideal ice core sites and many are located along the WAIS coastline—providing opportunity to reconstruct coastal climate and environmental parameters back decades to millennia at annual resolution.

In January 2024, an international team successfully collected two 150-meter-long ice cores on either side of the ice flow divide of Canisteo Peninsula ice rise, ~150 km north of Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers. Supported by the South Korean icebreaker RV ARAON and two AS-350 helicopters, the camp of 8 people spent 13 days at the site. 280 km of radar lines were collected on the ground at Canisteo Peninsula, observing ice thickness, internal structure, and shallow surface mass balance variability. Additional helicopter-borne radar was collected over nearby Martin Peninsula.

Once analyzed, these approximately 200 year-long cores will provide baseline proxy observations of fundamental climate variables (temperature, wind, snowfall) which play a poorly quantified role in forcing regional glacier change. They will also expand on the existing inland WAIS ice core array and, with the recovery of additional cores, eventually connect to Korean and other international ice coring efforts in the Ross Sea and Victoria Land regions helping to form a WAIS coastal ice core array.

For more information, please contact Bronagh Glaser by email at [email protected] or visit Environmental Science and Engineering.