Additional Participants


Erich Osterberg

Graduate Student

Bess Koffman
Daniel Breton
Dominic Winski

Undergraduate Student

Robert Harrington
Brittany Gilman
Kaitlyn Butcher
Shelly Griffin
Eliza Kane

Technician, Programmer

Michael Handley

Organizational Partners

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar
Columbia University Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
University of Florence
Cornell University

Project Period

July 1, 2007-June 30, 2010

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



This award supports a project to perform continuous microparticle concentration and size distribution measurements (using coulter counter and state-of-the-art laser detector methods), analysis of biologically relevant trace elements associated with microparticles (Fe, Zn, Co, Cd, Cu), and tephra measurements on the WAIS Divide ice core. This initial three-year project includes analysis of ice core spanning the instrumental (~1850-present) to mid- Holocene (~5000 years BP) period, with sample resolution ranging from subannual to decadal. The intellectual merit of the project is that it will help in establishing the relationships among climate, atmospheric aerosols from terrestrial and volcanic sources, ocean biogeochemistry, and greenhouse gases on several timescales which remain a fundamental problem in paleoclimatology. The atmospheric mineral dust plays an important but uncertain role in direct radiative forcing, and the microparticle datasets produced in this project will allow us to examine changes in South Pacific aerosol loading, atmospheric dynamics, and dust source area climate. The phasing of changes in aerosol properties within Antarctica, throughout the Southern Hemisphere, and globally is unclear, largely due to the limited number of annually dated records extending into the glacial period and the lack of a
tephra framework to correlate records. The broader impacts of the proposed research are an interdisciplinary approach to climate science problems, and will contribute to several WAIS Divide science themes as well as the broader paleoclimate and oceanographic communities. Because the research topics have a large and direct societal relevance, the project will form a centerpiece of various outreach efforts at UMaine and NMT including institution websites, public speaking, local K-12 school interaction, media interviews and news releases, and popular literature. At least one PhD student and one MS student will be directly supported by this project, including fieldwork, core processing, laboratory analysis, and data interpretation/publication. We expect that one graduate student per year will apply for a core handler/assistant driller position through the WAIS Divide Science Coordination Office, and that undergraduate student involvement will result in several Capstone experience projects (a UMaine graduation requirement). Data and ideas generated from the project will be integrated into undergraduate and graduate course curricula at both institutions.