Short Name:

Validating contrasting terrestrial climate-sensitive Pliocene deposits through high resolution modeling of paleo-environments in the Transantarctic Mountains

Intellectual Merit: Neogene sediment records recovered by ANDRILL suggest multiple events of open water conditions and elevated sea surface temperatures at times when terrestrial data from the McMurdo Dry Valleys indicate hyper arid, cold, desert conditions. Interpretation of the ANDRILL data suggests the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is highly sensitive to changes in Pliocene sea surface temperatures and this conclusion has been supported by recent Global Circulation Model results for the early to mid Pliocene. The PIs propose to model paleo-ice configurations and warm orbits associated with a WAIS collapse to assess potential climate change in East Antarctica. During such episodes of polar warmth they propose to answer: What is the limit of ablation along the East Antarctic Ice Sheet?; Are relict landforms in the Dry Valleys susceptible to modification from increase in maximum summertime temperatures?; and Is there sufficient increase in minimum wintertime temperatures to sustain a tundra environment in the Dry Valleys? Integration of depositional records and model outputs have the potential to test the performance of numerical models currently under development as part of ANDRILL; reconcile inconsistencies between marine and terrestrial paleoclimate records in high Southern Latitudes; and improve understanding of Antarctic climate and ice volume sensitivity to forcing for both the East Antarctic and West Antarctic Ice Sheets. Broader impacts: Results from this study have the potential to be used widely by the research community. Outreach to local elementary schools from other funded efforts will continue and be extended to homeschooled students. A Post Doc will be supported as part of this award.

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