Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: On-site isotope diffusion experiments conducted by Netherlands Arctic Research (NAP)/ALW-NAPSP/07-03 (Award# NAP-ISO)

PI: Meijer, H.A.J. (Harro) (
Phone: 31((0) 05) 363.4739 
Institute/Department: RuG University of Groningen,  
IPY Project? NO
Funding Agency: NL\Federal\NWO\NAP
Program Manager: Ms. Renee Crain (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere\Isotope Science |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This project is comprised of snow sampling and analysis to contribute to better understanding of ice core isotope records by studying isotope diffusion. The climate history reconstruction, using the "precipitation archives" of the ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica, and smaller ice caps elsewhere, relies to a large extent on the hydrogen and oxygen isotope signals. This is true for all time scales, from the long-term glacial-interglacial sequences down to the seasonal cycle. All three stable isotopes of water (2H, 17O and 18O) show a significant seasonal cycle, most pronounced in polar areas. After deposition, however, the amplitude of these seasonal cycles dampens over the years as the consequence of isotope diffusion in the firn phase. During the firn phase diffusion takes place quite efficiently by water vapor transport through the micro channels in the firn. As soon as the firn turns into ice, however, diffusion only takes place within the ice, and is then orders of magnitude slower. Thus, effectively, the firn diffusion pattern gets "frozen" in the ice. Better knowledge of the isotope diffusion process has become even more important. This project will perform a first "real life" firn diffusion experiment in the field, by layer of isotopically labeled snow at "S10" in Greenland, 150 km east of Kangerlussuaq, at Summit Station, Greenland and at a site in Antarctica. In that way they will be able to compare the isotope diffusion process on three sites, widely different in temperature and precipitation amount. The likely influence of mankind on climate is a subject of top political and societal relevance. The paleo-climate information brought about by ice core isotope analysis is very detailed, and thus provides researchers with stringent validation material for models describing the climate system. The work of this project will contribute to the better understanding of ice core isotope records, which in the end leads to better climate models, and thus to more realistic and reliable future climate predictions.

Logistics Summary:
For this isotope study funded by the Netherlands Arctic Program (NAP) of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), researchers will conduct shallow ice-core sampling in Greenland. From 2007-2011, project researchers will work each year at two sites in Greenland: Summit Station and site “S10” about 150 km east of Kangerlussuaq. At the latter, researchers laid down an isotopically enriched snow layer in 2005; with this project, they will continue studying the layer. They will establish an enriched layer at Summit (and at a third site in Antarctica) for comparative analyses. This database record focuses on the work at Summit Station. The development of the isotope-labelled layer will give experimental validation to isotope diffusion models that are in use to correct ice core measurements. This resampling activity will be an annual event. In August of 2007, 2 researchers will spend several days at Summit Station where they will produce a ~6 x 6 meter isotopically enriched labeled layer in undisturbed snow using a snow maker that draws enriched water from a small inflatable swimming pool. The researchers will also travel via helicopter to the S10 site, 150 km east of Kangerlussuaq, to revisit the experiment they set up in 2005. In July of 2008, a team of two will return to the site at Summit Station where they will obtain samples from 3 snow pits inside their field. They will spend about 2 days at Summit. In 2009, researchers will return to the same study area at Summit Station. Rather than using a snow pit, they will obtain samples using a shallow depth hand corer. They will spend about 3 days at Summit for this work. In August of 2010, the researchers will again collect samples at Summit using a shallow depth manual corer. They will spend approximately two days at Summit Station for this work. In August of 2011, the final year of the project at Summit Station, the researches will again collect samples at Summit Station using a shallow depth manual corer.

CPS will support this project with transport to and from Summit Station of personnel and cargo, KISS user days, Summit user days, and access to the Summit infrastructure and science technical services. CPS will recoup costs associated with this support via a direct-bill arrangement. All other expenses will be arranged by the PI and paid with grant funds
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2007Greenland - Kangerlussuaq08 / 06 / 2007 08 / 12 / 20072
2007Greenland - Site S-1008 / 08 / 2007 08 / 09 / 20072
2007Greenland - Summit08 / 07 / 2007 08 / 09 / 20072
2008Greenland - Kangerlussuaq07 / 20 / 2008 08 / 02 / 20082
2008Greenland - Site S-1007 / 23 / 2008 07 / 23 / 20082
2008Greenland - Summit07 / 22 / 2008 07 / 24 / 20082
2009Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 07 / 2009 05 / 15 / 20092
2009Greenland - Site S-102
2009Greenland - Summit05 / 12 / 2009 05 / 14 / 20092
2010Greenland - Kangerlussuaq08 / 11 / 2010 08 / 17 / 20102
2010Greenland - Summit08 / 13 / 2010 08 / 15 / 20102
2011Greenland - Kangerlussuaq08 / 11 / 2011 08 / 17 / 20112
2011Greenland - Summit08 / 12 / 2011 08 / 15 / 20112

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