Scientists to Extend Antarctic Ice Records Back to 3 Million Years

Contact: Andrei Kurbatov (207) 581-2840; Aimee Dolloff, (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine – Scientists at the University of Maine have received a $436,546 grant from the National Science Foundation to extend climate records back to three million years using ice samples from the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area in East Antarctica.

Andrei Kurbatov, an assistant research professor at UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, will lead the project, in cooperation with Princeton University, which aims to reconstruct details of past climate changes and greenhouse gas concentrations for certain time periods by applying emerging methods for absolute and relative dating of air bubbles trapped in the ice.

During two field expeditions, researchers will collect ice core samples and conduct surface trenching activities at the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area.

In addition to developing a new climate record from the information preserved in some of the oldest ice on Earth, a major long-term scientific goal is to establish a framework for an International Climate Park at Allan Hills.

Students also will be trained in advanced field, laboratory and numerical modeling methods as part of the project.

The University of Maine is involved in cyber infrastructure development, which can provide a wide community of scientists with fast access to the results of our research, Kurbatov pointed in his grant proposal. Extending ice core based climate records beyond 850,000 years will contribute to the broad array of climate change studies and improve our understanding of natural and anthropogenic forced climate change, and the options for responding.