Additional Participants

Senior Personnel

Paul Mayewski

Gordon Hamilton


Rachel Obbard

Graduate Student

Nicole Spaulding

Sharon Sneed

Undergraduate Student

Brooke Johnson

Technician, Programmer

Katherine Sieg

Organizational Partners

University of Washington

U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Enginering Laboratory

University of Maine

Dartmouth College Thayer School of Engineering

Project Period

June 2009-May 2010

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



This award supports a project for physical properties research on snow pits and firn/ice cores with specific objectives that include stratigraphic analysis including determination of accumulation rates, annual layers, depth hoar, ice and wind crusts and rates of grain growth with depth. Studies of firn densification rates and how these parameters relate to the meteorology and climatology over the last 200 years of snow accumulation in Antarctica will also be investigated. The project will also determine the seasonality of accumulation by co-registration of stratigraphy and chemistry and determination of chemical species at the grain boundaries, how these may change with depth/densification (and therefore temperature), precipitation, and may affect grain growth. Fabric analyses will be made, including variation with depth, location on undulations and if any variation exists with climate/chemistry. The large spatial coverage of the US ITASE program offers the opportunity to determine how these parameters are affected by a large range of temperature, precipitation and topographic effects. The intellectual merit of the project includes the fact that ITASE is the terrestrial equivalent of a polar research vessel that provides a unique, logistically efficient, multi-dimensional (x, y, z and time) view of the atmosphere, ice sheet and their histories. Physical properties measurements/ analyses are an integral part of understanding the dynamic processes to which the accumulated snow is subjected. Recent advancements in the field along with multiple core sites provide an excellent opportunity to gain a much broader understanding of the spatial, temporal and physical variables that impact firnification and the possible resultant impact on climatic interpretation. In terms of broader impacts, the data collected by US ITASE and its international ITASE partners is available to a broad scientific community. US ITASE has an extensive program of public outreach and provides significant opportunities for many students to experience multidisciplinary Antarctic research. A graduate student, a post-doctoral fellow and at least one undergraduate would be funded by this work. Dr. Meese is also a member of the New England Science Collaborative, an organization that educates the public on climate change based on recent scientific advancements.

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In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.