Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Assessment of the natural perchlorate source using perchlorate history from Greenland ice cores (Award# 1203533)

PI: Cole-Dai, JiHong (
Phone: (605) 688.4744 
Institute/Department: South Dakota State University, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Henrietta Edmonds ( )
Discipline(s): | Biology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
Perchlorate is a long-lived environmental contaminant, released from human activities but increasingly recognized to have a natural source as well. The investigators will measure perchlorate in previously-collected Greenland ice cores, with the following specific objectives: 1. To obtain a robust (continuous and annual resolution) 500-year record of perchlorate in the environment using ice core samples from Greenland 2. To quantify the magnitude and variability of the natural, probably atmospheric perchlorate source in the Northern Hemisphere environment using the pre-1850 part of the record 3. To estimate the relative contributions of natural and anthropogenic sources to perchlorate in the current environment, and 4. To evaluate the impact of specific human activities (e.g., space applications) by a close examination of the perchlorate record during specific time periods (e.g., pre- and post-1950s). The project will involve the application of a new method to measure extremely low concentrations of perchlorate in polar ice. Achievement of the main objective can lead to improvement of our understanding of the natural formation process of environmentally important substances. Results of this work may inform decision-making regarding the regulation of perchlorate release into the environment. The project will involve both graduate and undergraduate student participants and contribute to an environmental outreach program between South Dakota State University and K-12 schools in South Dakota.

Logistics Summary:
Using an ultra high performance liquid-chromatography tandem mass-spectrometer researchers will conduct detailed analysis of perchlorate from Greenland ice cores to determine natural and anthropogenic sources of perchlorate in the environment. Trace chemicals such as perchlorate in old polar ice offer a sample of what was in the air at the time of the snowfall. Using an liquid-chromatography tandem mass-spectrometer or LC-MS-MS instrument the PI can measure very low levels of perchlorate in ice cores from snowcapped Greenland to generate an unbroken record of perchlorate levels in the atmosphere for the past 500 years. Such a record will help quantify the contributions of natural and man-made perchlorate. No fieldwork is proposed.

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