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Climate and Land Use Change Research and Development Program

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West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Ice Core

Penn State Ice and Climate Research

Antarctic Research Centre

Select Bibliography:

Fegyveresi, J.M., R.B. Alley, M.K. Spencer, J.J. Fitzpatrick, E.J. Steig, J.W.C. White, 2011: Late-Holocene climate evolution at the WAIS Divide site, West Antarctica: bubble number-density estimates.

Spencer, M.K., Alley, R.B., Fitzpatrick, J.J., 2006: Developing a bubble number-density paleoclimatic indicator for glacier ice.

Alley, R.B. and Fitzpatrick, J.J., 1999, Conditions for elongation in cold ice-sheet ice.

Ice Dynamics, Paleoclimates, and Ice Cores

Air bubbles (left) and ice crystals (right) in an ice core sample contain a comprehensive history of the Earthís climate.
Air bubbles (left) and ice crystals (right) in an ice core
sample contain a comprehensive history of the Earthís climate.
This project is currently focused on contributing to a new, high-resolution paleoclimate record being developed from Central West Antarctica, and on the development of a coupled paleoclimate / ice dynamical study of the most recent deglaciation of the Ross Embayment through characterization of the physical properties of ice cores recently recovered from these locations. The first aspect of this project is contributing to the development of a robust climate record of West Antarctica that will compare directly with the high-resolution record developed from Central Greenland during the 1990s. This new record will facilitate a comparison of the timing of past global climate events between the northern and southern hemispheres and the influence of such events on the climate regimes in West Antarctica. The second aspect of this project investigates the most recent deglaciation of the Ross Embayment and its effect on the flow and elevation response of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The WAIS is recognized as the largest body of grounded ice most susceptible to the effects of rising sea level and warming sea-surface temperatures.

Why is this research important?

Ice cores recovered from the polar regions of the Earth contain the most comprehensive, direct record of the planetís high-latitude climate for the past 800,000 years. Understanding the climate history of the polar regions of the Earth helps us put modern climate change into a larger temporal context and provides us with a clearer picture of what the consequences of a warmer climate will be on glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets. This, in turn provides a clearer understanding of the potential magnitude, rate, and timing of sea-level rise in a global-warming scenario.

Principal Investigator: Joan Fitzpatrick

Project Team: DeAnna Laurel

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