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Earth Institute Research Projects

Collaborative Research: West Antarctic Ice Sheet stability, Alpine Glaciation, and Climate Variability: a Terrestrial Perspective from Cosmogenic-nuclide Dating in McMurdo Sound

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

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

September 2013 - August 2017
Inactive
Antarctica
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Intellectual merit: The PIs propose to complement the ANDRILL marine record with a terrestrial project that will provide chronological control for past fluctuations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and alpine glaciers in McMurdo Sound. The project will develop high-resolution maps of drifts deposited from grounded marine-based ice and alpine glaciers on islands and peninsulas in McMurdo Sound. In addition, the PIs will acquire multi-clast/multi-nuclide cosmogenic analyses of these mapped drift sheets and alpine moraines and use regional climate modeling to shed light on the range of possible environmental conditions in the McMurdo region during periods of grounded ice expansion and recession. The PIs will make use of geological records for ice sheet and alpine glacier fluctuations preserved on the flanks of Mount Discovery, Black Island, and Brown Peninsula. Drifts deposited from grounded, marine-based ice will yield spatial constraints for former advances and retreats of the WAIS. Moraines from alpine glaciers, hypothesized to be of interglacial origin, could yield a first-order record of hydrologic change in the region. Synthesizing the field data, the team proposes to improve the resolution of existing regional-scale climate models for the Ross Embayment. The overall approach and anticipated results will provide the first steps towards linking the marine and terrestrial records in this critical sector of Antarctica. Broader Impacts: Results from the proposed work will be integrated with outreach programs at Boston University, Columbia University, and Worcester State University. The team will actively collaborate with the American Museum of Natural History to feature this project prominently in museum outreach. The team will also include a PolarTREC teacher as a member of the research team. The geomorphological results will be presented in 3D at Boston University?s Antarctic Digital Image Analyses Lab. The research will form the basis of a PhD dissertation at Boston University.