Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: The response of the Greenland Ice Sheet to Holocene climate change: Testing ice sheet models and forcing mechanisms of ice margin change (Award# 1156361)

PI: Briner, Jason P (
Phone: (716) 645.4326 
Institute/Department: U at Buffalo, Department of Geology 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\SBE\BCS
Program Manager: Dr. David McGinnis (
Discipline(s): | Meteorology and Climate |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The Greenland Ice Sheet is at the center of attention of scientists and the mainstream media alike. Despite its potential to contribute dramatically to sea level rise in response to ongoing and projected climate change, resulting in significant socio-economic impacts in the US and around the globe, the future behavior of the Greenland Ice Sheet remains largely uncertain. This uncertainty stems from our incomplete knowledge of the pattern and timescales of the ice sheet’s response to climate change. The PIs will combine their expertise in contemporary ice sheet change and geological reconstructions of past ice sheet change to achieve two objectives: 1) Determine the spatial pattern of western GIS change from the early Holocene through the 20th century, specifically comparing adjacent land-based and marine-dominated ice margins, and 2) Test ice sheet model reconstructions of GIS extent during the middle Holocene by adopting a new field approach developed and tested in a two-year pilot project. Meeting these objectives will allow the PIs to gauge the response of the western Greenland Ice Sheet to climate change during the Holocene, which encompasses a larger magnitude of climate change than exists in the brief historic record. Despite the difficulty of using terrestrial records to reconstruct the behavior of the Greenland Ice Sheet during the middle Holocene, when it is thought to have been smaller than today, untapped archives of ice margin change exist in the hundreds of proglacial lake basins near the ice sheet margin. Sediment coring of proglacial lakes will be combined with cosmogenic 10Be exposure dating, remote sensing and photogrammetry to develop complete histories of ice margin response to middle Holocene warmth, late Holocene climate deterioration, and changes in climate and oceanography during the 20th century. By building on pilot data from Greenland’s largest ice stream, Jakobshavn Isbræ, and spanning strategically chosen sites in western Greenland that include both marine-terminating and land-based outlet glaciers, this project will result in much needed ice sheet reconstructions from the most climatically sensitive sector of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Logistics Summary:
Researchers on this interdisciplinary research project will combine a newly tested field approach with remote-sensing-based reconstructions of ice margin change targeted at understanding the response of the GIS to Holocene climate change. The team will conduct research in Greenland in the summers of 2012 and 2013. In August, 2012, a field team of three will visit the following sites outside Ilulissat via helicopter: Camp 1 69° 58.4' N 50° 20.5' W Camp 2 70°11'49.60"N 50°28'4.98"W Stop 1 70° 5'14.46"N 50° 1'35.65"W Stop 2 69°54'57.11"N 50°50'7.04"W Stop 3 69°55'15.84"N 51°25'43.67"W In mid July, 2013, a field team of three will travel via ANG to Kangerlussuaq, and then on to Ilulissat via commercial air. After preparing locally for their field work, the researchers will use a chartered Bell 212 helicopter to put in to their camp south of Disko Bugt. They will work for a week before moving camp, again via helicopter, to another site. The research team will also use helicopter support to stop briefly at 5-6 sites for additional measurements. At the end of the month, the team will return to Ilulissat, completing the project’s field activities

CPS will provide ANG coordination for passengers and freight between NY and Kangerlussuaq, user days at KISS and lodging in Ilulissat, commercial air ticketing and freight within Greenland, helicopter charter, camping and safety equipment. All other support including boat ferries and charters and/or rentals will be paid by the PI from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2012Greenland - Ilulissat08 / 08 / 2012 08 / 21 / 20123
2012Greenland - Kangerlussuaq08 / 21 / 2012 08 / 22 / 20123
2013Greenland - Disko Island07 / 31 / 2013 08 / 01 / 20133
2013Greenland - Ilulissat07 / 30 / 2013 08 / 20 / 20132
2013Greenland - Kangerlussuaq08 / 20 / 2013 08 / 21 / 20131

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Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "1156361", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1