Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Collaborative Research: Analysis of McCall Glacier Ice Core and Related Modern Process Studies

Collaborative Research: Analysis of McCall Glacier Ice Core and Related Modern Process Studies

The proposed research addresses two overarching questions related to climate in the eastern Alaskan Arctic: “How has climate, terrestrial ecology, and pollutant transport changed over the past 250 years in this region, based on ice core reconstructions from McCall Glacier?” and “How well can we overcome the challenges of core proxy interpretations from ice cores taken from small polythermal valley glaciers through modern-process studies?” To answer these questions we will conduct an inter-disciplinary analysis of ice core proxies, atmospheric dynamics, modern processes, and numerical ice flow modeling.

This collaborative proposal has several major goals and collaborators from five universities. We will interpret recently completed measurements of 35 chemical-proxies in the ice-core and relate these to similar studies in other Arctic ice cores, such as by using real-world contaminant transport to validate atmospheric circulation models and chemical-signature sourcing. We will analyze pollen in the core and expand on modern process studies in progress on McCall Glacier to capture and identify source regions of modern pollen deposition. We will analyze synoptic-scale weather patterns from global reanalysis models over the past 50 years, utilizing a variety of techniques including self- organizing maps, such that these weather patterns can be tied to variations in core proxies, as well as relate this to ten years (2003-2013) of records from about a dozen automated weather stations located on and near McCall Glacier. We will continue our 3D higher-order flow modeling of the glacier, specifically to help us constrain a depth-age relationship for the core to help assess snow accumulation rates. We will continue to maintain our network of local weather stations and time-series of glacier mass balance, as well as conduct modern process investigations of the impact of meltwater percolation on core proxies in the accumulation area. This project brings together senior scientists from the Desert Research Institute, the University of Colorado, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University Libre de Brussels, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks to tackle these problems as a team to create transformative new approaches to analyzing ice cores from polythermal valley glaciers to create unique records of value to a broad-base of scientists and policy makers.

Research Group



University of Colorado
John Cassano
Elizabeth Cassano

University of Alaska-Fairbanks
Matt Nolan

Desert Research Institute
Joe McConnell

University of Southern Mississippi
Carl "Andy" Reese

Funding Information

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation.