Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: The fingerprint of abrupt temperature events throughout Greenland during the last glacial period (Award# 1804154)

PI: Sowers, Todd A (
Phone: (814) 865.1921 
Institute/Department: Penn State University, Department of Geosciences 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Frank Rack ( )
Discipline(s): | Geological Sciences\Glaciology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (or AMOC) is an important part of the global three-dimensional ocean circulation (global ocean conveyor belt) that includes the well-known, northward-flowing Gulf Stream current that redistributes heat and thereby affects climate. The AMOC is expected to weaken or even collapse in the coming centuries, with several recent studies suggesting that this weakening has already begun. The AMOC collapse would not only severely impact climate in the North Atlantic region but would also weaken the monsoon rains that a large portion of the global population depends on for their livelihood. Studying ice cores can shed light on past changes in the strength of the AMOC and can help scientists better understand the stability and behavior of this important ocean circulation system. Greenland ice cores and ocean sediment records show that during the last Ice Age (100,000 to 20,000 years ago) the AMOC repeatedly collapsed and restarted, resulting in a series of extreme climate oscillations commonly known as Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) cycles. Each D-O event consists of an abrupt (decadal-scale) warming episode (increase of 8-15 degrees Centigrade) observed in Greenland ice cores, leading to a few millennia of warmer climate followed by a gradual cooling back to full glacial conditions. The research will develop temperature records from two Greenland ice cores to determine both the geographic distribution as well as the intensity of the D-O events throughout Greenland. These records will provide a spatial ‘fingerprint’ of the D-O events, which can be used a forensic tool to determine the location of D-O warming and the migration of the sea-ice edge around Greenland during these events. These data will be included in climate simulations using state-of-the-art global climate models to improve our understanding of the physical nature of these enigmatic events. The research will contribute to reliable timescales for the two ice cores, with benefits to the wider ice core community. The work will support an early-career scientist and a graduate student and will also provide outreach to public schools. Understanding the physical processes that drive the Earth’s climate system throughout a Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) event remains an important open scientific question in paleoclimate research. The spatial pattern of D-O warming holds clues to the origin of D-O events, in particular whether the critical geographic area is located in the Labrador Sea or in the GIN (Greenland, Iceland, Norwegian) seas. Ultra-high-resolution stable isotope records from these ice cores document changes in the hydrological cycle associated with these abrupt warming episodes. Climate models show that the southern Dye-3 ice core is more sensitive to abrupt climate change than previously analyzed ice cores, giving the possibility of observing for the first time the temperature imprint of a Heinrich event (a natural phenomenon in which large armadas of icebergs break off from glaciers and traverse the North Atlantic Ocean), as well as the largest D-O warmings ever observed. Isotope enabled climate model simulations will provide improved interpretation of changes in second-order isotope parameters (deuterium- and 17O excess) through D-O and Heinrich-events.

Logistics Summary:
This collaborative grant between Sowers (1804154, LEAD, Penn State), Buizert (1804133, OSU), and White (1804098, CU) will conduct ice core analysis of the glacial sections of two Greenland ice cores (Dye 3 and EGRIP) in 2019 and 2020. A field team of seven will visit the EGRIP camp at various times in 2019 to measure stable isotopes on the EGRIP ice core, using new continuous melting, analytical techniques. The Dye 3 core is in storage in Copenhagen where the team will send two researchers to the storage site to do analysis on that core in 2019. Research team members from the NSF grant #1833165 (Vaughn) will travel under this grant. They will then return to Greenland in 2020 for further measurements.

CPS support will consist of Air National Guard coordination for passengers and cargo between NY and Kangerlussuaq for annual EGRIP deployment. Once in Greenland the team will be under the support umbrella of EGRIP. INSTAAR will provide equipment and technical support. All other logistics will be arranged and paid for by the PI from the research grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2019Greenland - EGRIP04 / 23 / 2019 08 / 14 / 20198
2019Greenland - Kangerlussuaq04 / 23 / 2019 08 / 15 / 20198
2020Greenland - EGRIP05 / 15 / 2020 07 / 05 / 20205
2020Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 15 / 2020 07 / 05 / 20205

Generated from:
Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "1804154", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1