International Partnerships in Ice Core SciencesEntry ID: twickler_0401116
Abstract: Society would benefit greatly from the ability to efficiently allocate
resources to minimize disruptions caused by climate change. This requires the
ability to predict the response of future climate to natural and anthropogenic
forcing on time scales of months to centuries. To do so we need to understand
how the sun, ocean, land, atmosphere, and cryosphere interact to ... create the
climate that controls so many aspects of our daily lives. One of the ways the
science community develops this understanding is to study the earth's climate
history. By learning how and why the climate changed in the past, we will be
able to make better predictions of how the climate will change in the future.
Ice sheets and glaciers contain well-ordered accumulations of ancient ice that
fell as snow years to millions of years ago. The dust particles, soluble
chemicals, and gases trapped in the ice are routinely used to study how the
climate system operated in the past, and how it will operate in the future. To
sample this ice, an international community of scientists and engineers drill
into ice and collect ice cores. The information from ice core programs helps
explain how climate changes occur throughout the world, not just at the site at
which the core was drilled. This is possible because most of the material in
the core, such as dust and gases, is representative of large regions. Ice
coring projects range in size from a single investigator working for a single
field season, to multi-national, multi-year efforts. Investigations using ice
cores have documented how climate varied naturally before anthropogenic
influences, and have shown there is a tight link between temperature and the
atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.
Ice core data have become central to our understanding of past climate change,
and to assessments of possible future climate change. Ice core investigations
are now a major branch of climate research, and the complexity of ice core
projects has increased accordingly. To meet the expectations of the climate
research community, increasingly complex future ice coring projects will
require international collaboration. In March 2004, representatives from the
international ice coring research community convened a workshop to develop
concepts for the projects that are needed to predict both natural and
anthropogenic climate change. The International Partnerships in Ice Core
Sciences (IPICS) Workshop was supported by the U.S National Science Foundation.
Fifty-five scientists, engineers, and funding agency representatives from
Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia,
Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States attended the workshop.
The major recommendations of the workshop are:
-Continue the Dialogue. Representatives of the international ice coring
community should meet in 2005 to discuss implementation of current plans, and
then continue to have regular meetings that include the exchange of information
on ice core science and drilling that will be helpful to future and
ongoing projects. Heinz Miller, on behalf of the European Polar Board, stated
that Europe would like to host a follow-up IPICS meeting during 2005.
-Retrieve Longest Possible Antarctic Ice Core Climate Record. A program should
be initiated to collect an Antarctic ice core climate record longer than 1.2
million years. This program will provide insights into the way future climate
will respond to changes in the distribution of solar heating, by examining how
natural changes, driven by changes in the earths orbit, evolved over this long
time frame. Initially this will require a multi-year effort to locate the
optimal drilling locations for the collection of cores to address this topic.
Ice cores should be collected from at least two locations in East Antarctica.
The site selection work should be initiated during the International Polar
Year. Additional workshops should be held to develop a framework for this
-Longest Possible Arctic Ice Core Climate Record. A program should be
initiated to collect the longest possible Arctic ice core climate record, with
the specific goal of completely penetrating ice deposited the last time the
earth was in a warm (interglacial) state like today. This program will provide
critical insights into the natural variability of our current climate and, by
elucidating how the last warm period ended, may yield information on how the
current warm period will end. The optimal location for this project has been
narrowed down to a small area in northwest Greenland. A minor amount of
additional site selection work, which could occur early in the International
Polar Year, is required before drilling can proceed. Preparations for the
drilling could be completed by the end of the International Polar Year.
Additional workshops should be held to develop a detailed plan for this
-Spatial Array of Ice Cores. A program should be initiated to collect a
spatial array of ice cores on time scales ranging from centuries to millennia.
Many climate questions can only be answered if there is a well-designed spatial
array to investigate how hemisphere-scale climate phenomena interact to create
climate, and a coordinated effort is required to develop such an array. The
individual coring projects that make up the array should be facilitated, but
not directed, at the international level. This program would include polar
sites with records extending into the last glacial period, and a worldwide
distribution of sites with higher time resolution records extending through the
last millennium. Some of the smaller individual projects that make up this
program could be completed during the International Polar Year. The site
selection for some of the larger individual projects that make up this program
could be initiated during the International Polar Year. Additional workshops
should be held to develop a planning document for an international body to
facilitate the development of this global array.
-Improve Ice Coring Methods. An ongoing international effort to improve ice
coring methods should be initiated. This effort would focus on improving
drilling fluids, core quality, drilling efficiency, and replicate coring
methods. This effort could be facilitated with annual workshops and
international exchanges of drilling staff. To reach the objective of being able
to predict future climate variations, a new international approach to ice
coring is required. Implementing these recommendations is a necessary step
towards reaching that objective.
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Phone: (603) 862-1991
Email: mark.twickler at unh.edu
Climate Change Research Center Institute for the Study of Earth and Ocean Sciences University of New Hampshire
Province or State: NH
Postal Code: 03264
Role: DIF AUTHOR
Email: bauer at nsidc.org
University of Colorado Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences CIRES 449 UCB
Province or State: CO
Postal Code: 80309
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Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2006-01-13
Last DIF Revision Date: 2010-07-09