Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW

ALE has long had an association with researchers from the Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC), University of New South Wales, Australia. Support has included: intercontinental and feeder flights, base camp facilities, snowmobiles and fuel, and guide services.

Changes in Ice Sheet Dynamics

2010 fieldwork focused on changes in ice sheet dynamics, using mountains protruding through the ice sheet as “dipsticks” of past changes in thickness and volume. Professors Chris Fogwill and Chris Turney collected rock samples from erratics at Union Glacier and in the Flower Hills. They were able to determine how long the rocks had been on the surface (and therefore how long the area has been ice-free) by assessing isotope changes in the rocks due to exposure to air.

Integrating Past Ice Sheet Dynamics with Palaeoclimate Estimates

As a result of this work, CCRC worked with ALE on an application to the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Partnership awards. This was a five season, jointly funded research application between ARC and ALE on Integrating Past Ice Sheet Dynamics with Palaeoclimate Estimates that was awarded in 2012. The focus of the project was collecting ice cores from the blue-ice areas at Patriot Hills to investigate past climate.

Blue-ice occurs where strong, turbulent winds remove surface ice in a process known as ablation, drawing ancient, compressed layers up from below and providing access to a detailed record of past climate change preserved in millennia-old ice.

Fogwill and Turney began sampling in January 2013 and have developed a record from the ancient ice that may extend back some 100,000 years at a high resolution. This is truly remarkable and ranks as one of the best records of past climate in Antarctica. As they develop a detailed age model, they will be able to select different periods in the past and extract the gases from the atmosphere at any point in time, providing insight into how green house gases change through time. The results of their fieldwork will help contextualize recent glacial changes of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) as a result of climate change, and will inform our understanding of the region’s long-term climate.

In addition to financial input, ALE’s support during the project has included accommodation at Union Glacier, flight and vehicle transfer to Patriot Hills and removal of the valuable ice cores to Chile under temperature controlled systems.

Project Website:

More about CCRC Research Projects
“Antarctic ice sheet discharge driven by atmosphere-ocean feedbacks at the Last Glacial Termination”, Nature Scientific Reports

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