Short Name:

Climate, Ice Dynamics and Biology using a Deep Ice Core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Ice Divide

This award supports renewal of funding of the WAIS Divide Science Coordination Office (SCO). The Science Coordination Office (SCO) was established to represent the research community and facilitates the project by working with support organizations responsible for logistics, drilling, and core curation. During the last five years, 26 projects have been individually funded to work on this effort and 1,511 m of the total 3,470 m of ice at the site has been collected. This proposal seeks funding to continue the SCO and related field operations needed to complete the WAIS Divide ice core project. Tasks for the SCO during the second five years include planning and oversight of logistics, drilling, and core curation; coordinating research activities in the field; assisting in curation of the core in the field; allocating samples to individual projects; coordinating the sampling effort; collecting, archiving, and distributing data and other information about the project; hosting an annual science meeting; and facilitating collaborative efforts among the research groups. The intellectual merit of the WAIS Divide project is to better predict how human-caused increases in greenhouse gases will alter climate requires an improved understanding of how previous natural changes in greenhouse gases influenced climate in the past. Information on previous climate changes is used to validate the physics and results of climate models that are used to predict future climate. Antarctic ice cores are the only source of samples of the paleo-atmosphere that can be used to determine previous concentrations of carbon dioxide. Ice cores also contain records of other components of the climate system such as the paleo air and ocean temperature, atmospheric loading of aerosols, and indicators of atmospheric transport. The WAIS Divide ice core project has been designed to obtain the best possible record of greenhouse gases during the last glacial cycle (last ~100,000 years). The site was selected because it has the best balance of high annual snowfall (23 cm of ice equivalent/year), low dust Antarctic ice that does not compromise the carbon dioxide record, and favorable glaciology. The main science objectives of the project are to investigate climate forcing by greenhouse gases, initiation of climate changes, stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and cryobiology in the ice core. The project has numerous broader impacts. An established provider of educational material (Teachers' Domain) will develop and distribute web-based resources related to the project and climate change for use in K-12 classrooms. These resources will consist of video and interactive graphics that explain how and why ice cores are collected, and what they tell us about future climate change. Members of the national media will be included in the field team and the SCO will assist in presenting information to the general public. Video of the project will be collected and made available for general use. Finally, an opportunity will be created for cryosphere students and early career scientists to participate in field activities and core analysis. An ice core archive will be available for future projects and scientific discoveries from the project can be used by policy makers to make informed decisions.

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