Earth Institute Research Projects

Collaborative Research: Terrestrial Geological Context for Glacier Change in the Northeast Antarctic Peninsula

Lead PI: Michael Kaplan , Dr. Joerg Michael Schaefer , Dr. Gisela Winckler

Unit Affiliation: Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

July 2012 - June 2017
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The project will significantly expand data sets on glacier changes throughout the Holocene by combining existing marine-geological constraints with terrestrial stratigraphic and geochronological observations.

The PIs propose to investigate last glacial maximum through Holocene glacial change on the northeastern Antarctic Peninsula, an area distinguished by dramatic ice shelf collapses and retreat of upstream glaciers. However, there is a lack of long-term context to know the relative significance of recent events over longer time scales. The PIs will obtain data on former ice margin positions, ice thicknesses, glacier retreat and thinning rates, and Holocene glacier change in the James Ross Island Archipelago and areas near the former Larsen-A ice shelf. These data include maximum- and minimum-limiting 14C and cosmogenic-nuclide exposure dates integrated with geomorphology and stratigraphy. Understanding the extent, nature, and history of glacial events is important for placing current changes in glacial extent into a long-term context. This research will also contribute to understanding the sensitivity of ice shelves and glaciers in this region to climate change. Records of changes in land-terminating glaciers will also address outstanding questions related to climate change since the LGM and through the Holocene. The PIs will collect samples during cooperative field projects with scientists of the Instituto Antártico Argentino and the Korea Polar Research Institute planned as part of existing, larger, research projects.

OUTCOMES: Year 1 field work has been carried out. Studied geomorphic settings in detail.


National Science Foundation (NSF)




Instituto Antartico Argentino, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba



geochemistry glaciers ice sheets paleoclimate holocene ocean and climate physics stratigraphy data


Earth fundamentals