Additional Participants

Graduate Student

Stephanie Allard
Scott Braddock
Elizabeth Dengler
Margaret Jackson
Courtney King
Tobias Koffman

Undergraduate Student

Robin Arnold
Calvin Mako
Glenn McKenney
Patrick Ryan
Peter Strand

Organizational Partners

University of Oxford
University of Washington

Project Period

September 1, 2010-August 31, 2014

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



This award supports a project to investigate the sensitivity of the Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) to global climate change over the last two Glacial/Interglacial cycles. The intellectual merit of the project is that despite its importance to Earth's climate system, we currently lack a full understanding of AIS sensitivity to global climate change. This project will reconstruct and precisely date the history of marine-based ice in the Ross Sea sector over the last two glacial/interglacial cycles, which will enable a better understanding of the potential driving mechanisms (i.e., sea-level rise, ice dynamics, ocean temperature variations) for ice fluctuations. This will also help to place present ice?]sheet behavior in a long-term context. During the last glacial maximum (LGM), the AIS is known to have filled the Ross Embayment and although much has been done both in the marine and terrestrial settings to constrain its extent, the chronology of the ice sheet, particularly the timing and duration of the maximum and the pattern of initial recession, remains uncertain. In addition, virtually nothing is known of the penultimate glaciation, other than it is presumed to have been generally similar to the LGM. These shortcomings greatly limit our ability to understand AIS evolution and the driving mechanisms behind ice sheet fluctuations. This project will develop a detailed record of ice extent and chronology in the western Ross Embayment for not only the LGM, but also for the penultimate glaciation (Stage 6), from well-dated glacial geologic data in the Royal Society Range. Chronology will come primarily from high-precision Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Carbon-14 (14C) and multi-collector Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP)-Mass Spectrometry (MS) 234Uranium/230Thorium dating of lake algae and carbonates known to be widespread in the proposed field area. The broader impacts of this work are that it fits well within the West Antarctic Ice Sheet initiative and complements the ANDRILL program. In addition, the PIs are committed to and have a long record of student education and outreach at all levels. A number of students (4-6) will be mentored in this project. The PI regularly visits classrooms to talk about Antarctica and communicates with students from the field and participates in local outreach efforts to attract girls to earth science.

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