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After the NEEM (Greenland) deep ice-core drilling was declared terminated with respect to developing stratigraphic climate reconstructions, efforts were turned toward collecting basal ice-sheet debris and, if possible, drilling into the bedrock itself. In 2010, several meters of banded debris-rich ice were obtained under normal ice-drilling operations with the NEEM version of the Hans Tausen (HT) drill, but further penetration was obstructed by a rock in the path of the drill head at 2537.36 m. During short campaigns in 2011 and 2012, attempts were made to penetrate further using various reinforced ice cutters mounted on the HT drill head, tailored to cut through rock. These had some success in penetrating coarse material, but produced severely damaged cutters. Additionally a 51 mm diameter diamond cutting tipped rock drill was adapted to fit the NEEM drill. With this device, several additional meters of core containing subglacial sediments, rocks and rock fragments were collected. With these tools 1.39m of additional material were obtained during the 2011 field season, and 7.1 m during 2012. Subglacial water refreezing into the newly formed borehole hindered further penetration, and the bedrock interface was not reached before final closure of the NEEM Camp.
Four firn cores were retrieved in 2007 at two ridges in the area of the Ekström Ice Shelf, Dronning Maud Land, coastal East Antarctica, in order to investigate the recent regional climate variability and the potential for future extraction of an intermediate-depth core. Stable water-isotope analysis, tritium content and electrical conductivity were used to date the cores. For the period 1981–2006 a strong and significant correlation between the stable-isotope composition of firn cores in the hinterland and mean monthly air temperatures at Neumayer station was (r = 0.54−0.71). No atmospheric warming or cooling trend is inferred from our stable-isotope data for the period 1962–2006. The stable-isotope record of the ice/firn cores could expand well beyond the meteorological record of the region. No significant temporal variation of accumulation rates was detected. However, decreasing accumulation rates were found from coast to hinterland, as well as from east (Halvfarryggen) to west (Søråsen). The deuterium excess (d) exhibits similar differences (higher d at Søråsen, lower d at Halvfarryggen), with a weak negative temporal trend on Halvfarryggen (0.04‰ a−1), probably implying increasing oceanic input. We conclude that Halvfarryggen acts as a natural barrier for moisture-carrying air masses circulating in the region from east to west.
In the mid-1990s, excellent results from the GRIP and GISP2 deep drilling projects in Greenland opened up funding for continued ice-coring efforts in Antarctica (EPICA) and Greenland (NorthGRIP). The Glaciology Group of the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, was assigned the task of providing drilling capability for these projects, as it had done for the GRIP project. The group decided to further simplify existing deep drill designs for better reliability and ease of handling. The drill design decided upon was successfully tested on Hans Tausen Ice Cap, Peary Land, Greenland, in 1995. The 5.0m long Hans Tausen (HT) drill was a prototype for the ~11m long EPICA and NorthGRIP versions of the drill which were mechanically identical to the HT drill except for a much longer core barrel and chips chamber. These drills could deliver up to 4m long ice cores after some design improvements had been introduced. The Berkner Island (Antarctica) drill is also an extended HT drill capable of drilling 2 m long cores. The success of the mechanical design of the HT drill is manifested by over 12 km of good-quality ice cores drilled by the HT drill and its derivatives since 1995.
Long-term maintenance of camp constructions on snow and ice surfaces involves repeated adjustments of the vertical position of buildings due to snow accumulation or ice ablation. The principle of a low-effort vertical-adjustment station structure is presented. The basic idea is to construct a floatable spherical-shaped building that can be lifted by adding water underneath, which will then refreeze, or can be lowered by melting ice away from the base. Under cold polar conditions, the power requirement for melting the base free is approximately 100 Wm–2 and is usually available as waste heat from the electric power generator of the station.
We present a technique that modifies and extends down-hole target methods to provide absolute measures of uncertainty in radar-reflector depth of origin. We use ice-core profiles to model wave propagation and reflection, and then cross-correlate the model results with radio-echo sounding (RES) data to identify the depth of reflector events. Stacked traces recorded with RES near the EPICA drill site in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, provide reference radargrams, and dielectric properties along the deep ice core form the input data to a forward model of wave propagation that produces synthetic radargrams. Cross-correlations between synthetic and RES radargrams identify differences in propagation wave speed. They are attributed to uncertainties in pure-ice permittivity and are used for calibration. Removing conductivity peaks results in the disappearance of related synthetic reflections and enables the unambiguous relation of electric signatures to RES features. We find that (i) density measurements with g-attenuation or dielectric profiling are too noisy below the firn–ice transition to allow clear identification of reflections, (ii) single conductivity peaks less than 0.5 m wide cause the majority of prominent reflections beyond a travel time of about 10 µs (~900m depth) and (iii) some closely spaced conductivity peaks within a range of 1–2m cannot be resolved within the RES or synthetic data. Our results provide a depth accuracy to allow synchronization of age–depth profiles of ice cores by RES, modeling of isochronous internal structures, and determination of wave speed and of pure-ice properties. The technique successfully operates with dielectric profiling and electrical conductivity measurements, suggesting that it can be applied at other ice cores and drill sites.
Analyses of air extracted from polar ice cores are the most straightforward method of reconstructing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and their variations for past climatic epochs. These measurements show that the concentration of the three most important greenhouse gases (other than water vapour) CO2, CH4 and N2O have steadily increased during the past 250 years due to anthropogenic activities (Prather and others, 2001; Prentice and others, 2001). Ice-core results also provided the first evidence of a substantial increase in the concentration of the three gases during the transition from the last glacial epoch to the Holocene (Raynaud and others, 1993). However, results from different cores are not always in agreement concerning details and small, short-term variations. the composition of the air enclosed in bubbles can be slightly changed by fractionation during the enclosure process, by chemical reactions and/or biological activity in the ice and by fractionation during the air extraction. We compile here several records with short-term variations or anomalies and discuss possible causes, taking into account improved analytical techniques and new results.
As part of the European Project for Ice Goring in Antarctica, a new deep ice core is being drilled at Dome C. Two electrical methods have been used on the core drilled so far: a new design of electrical conductivity method (EGM) instrument, and a traditional dielectric profiler. The two profiles are very similar in both peaks and background, consistent with acidity being the dominant influence on both in this part of the record. The Dome C records have been compared to EGM records from Vostok, and a tentative match has been made between them. This suggests a long-term average ratio of accumulation rate of 1.36 between this Dome C core and Vostok, and that the Dome C core analyzed so far (to 358 m) probably includes the very end of the Glacial-Holocene transition.
A new extraction system has been constructed and tested which allows the extraction of gases from air bubbles in ice without melting it. An ice sample of up to 20 g is crushed in a sealed container by a milling cutter and the gas escaping from the opened bubbles is flushed with helium to a Porapak column where it is stored until its injection into the gas Chromatograph. To avoid any contamination with CH4 produced by friction in the gear section, a helium-flushed rotary feed-through is used. CH4 analyses on ice samples of about 10 g from the last 1000 years give precise and reproducible results. In the future, it is planned to measure also the CO2 and N2O concentrations on the same sample.
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