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Deciphering the localisation of solid and dissolved impurities on the micron-scale in glacial ice remains a challenge, but is critical to understand the integrity of ice core records and internal deformation. Here we report on the state-of-the-art in microstructural impurity research by highlighting recent progress in bringing together cryo-Raman spectroscopy and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). We show the potential of both methods and discuss possibilities to improve inter-method approaches aiming for a more holistic understanding of the evolution of impurity localisation throughout the ice column, including post-depositional processes. In this framework, we elaborate on future research priorities such as LA-ICP-MS imaging on firn samples and integrating a large cryo-cell with imaging capabilities.
The validity of any glaciological paleo proxy used to interpret climate records is based on the level of understanding of their transfer from the atmosphere into the ice sheet and their recording in the snowpack. Large spatial noise in snow properties is observed, as the wind constantly redistributes the deposited snow at the surface routed by the local topography. To increase the signal-to-noise ratio and getting a representative estimate of snow properties with respect to the high spatial variability, a large number of snow profiles is needed. However, the classical way of obtaining profiles via snow-pits is time and energy-consuming, and thus unfavourable for large surface sampling programs. In response, we present a dual-tube technique to sample the upper metre of the snowpack at a variable depth resolution with high efficiency. The developed device is robust and avoids contact with the samples by exhibiting two tubes attached alongside each other in order to (1) contain the snow core sample and (2) to access the bottom of the sample, respectively. We demonstrate the performance of the technique through two case studies in East Antarctica where we analysed the variability of water isotopes at a 100 m and 5 km spatial scales.
Densification of firn at the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) camp is investigated using density surrogates: dielectric permittivities ∊v and ∊h at microwave frequencies with electrical fields in the vertical and horizontal planes, respectively. Dielectric anisotropy Δ∊ (= ∊v − ∊h) is then examined as a surrogate for the anisotropic geometry of firn. Its size, fluctuations and mutual correlations are investigated in samples taken at depths from the surface to ~90 m. The initial Δ∊ of ~0.06 appears within the uppermost 0.2 m. After that, Δ∊ decreases rapidly until 21–26 m depth. Below this, Δɛ decreases slowly. Layers with more ions of fluorine, chlorine and some cations deposited between the autumn and the subsequent summer deform preferentially during all these stages. This layered deformation is explained partly by the textural effects initially formed by the seasonal variation of metamorphism, and partly by ions such as fluorine, chlorine and ammonium, which are known to modulate dislocation movement in the ice crystal lattice. Insolation-sensitive microstructure appears to be preserved all the way to the pore close-off, within layers of the summer-to-autumn metamorphism. Like previous authors, we hypothesize that calcium is not the active agent in the reported deformation– calcium correlations.
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