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Where to find 1.5 million yr old ice for the IPICS “Oldest-Ice” ice core


Fischer, H and Severinghaus, J and Brook, E and Wolff, E and Albert, M and Alemany, O and Arthern, R and Bentley, C and Blankenship, D and Chappellaz, J and Creyts, T and Dahl-Jensen, D and Dinn, M and Frezzotti, M and Fujita, S and Gallee, H and Hindmarsh, R and Hudspeth, D and Jugie, G and Kawamura, K and Lipenkov, V and Miller, H and Mulvaney, R and Parrenin, F and Pattyn, F and Ritz, C and Schwander, J and Steinhage, D and van Ommen, T and Wilhelms, F, Where to find 1.5 million yr old ice for the IPICS 'Oldest-Ice' ice core, Climate of the Past, 9 pp. 2489-2505. ISSN 1814-9324 (2013) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Authors.Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

DOI: doi:10.5194/cp-9-2489-2013


The recovery of a 1.5 million yr long ice core from Antarctica represents a keystone of our understanding of Quaternary climate, the progression of glaciation over this time period and the role of greenhouse gas cycles in this progression. Here we tackle the question of where such ice may still be found in the Antarctic ice sheet. We can show that such old ice is most likely to exist in the plateau area of the East Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS) without stratigraphic disturbance and should be able to be recovered after careful pre-site selection studies. Based on a simple ice and heat flow model and glaciological observations, we conclude that positions in the vicinity of major domes and saddle position on the East Antarctic Plateau will most likely have such old ice in store and represent the best study areas for dedicated reconnaissance studies in the near future. In contrast to previous ice core drill site selections, however, we strongly suggest significantly reduced ice thickness to avoid bottom melting. For example for the geothermal heat flux and accumulation conditions at Dome C, an ice thickness lower than but close to about 2500m would be required to find 1.5 Myr old ice (i.e., more than 700m less than at the current EPICA Dome C drill site). Within this constraint, the resolution of an Oldest-Ice record and the distance of such old ice to the bedrock should be maximized to avoid ice flow disturbances, for example, by finding locations with minimum geothermal heat flux. As the geothermal heat flux is largely unknown for the EAIS, this parameter has to be carefully determined beforehand. In addition, detailed bedrock topography and ice flow history has to be reconstructed for candidates of an Oldest-Ice ice coring site. Finally, we argue strongly for rapid access drilling before any full, deep ice coring activity commences to bring datable samples to the surface and to allow an age check of the oldest ice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ice core, Antarctica, East Antarctica ice sheet, oldest ice
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Glaciology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Effects of climate change on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environments (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:van Ommen, T (Dr Tas van Ommen)
ID Code:109344
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:96
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2016-06-09
Last Modified:2016-08-15
Downloads:214 View Download Statistics

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