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Norwegian-American Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica


Isotopic Studies

By the University of Vermont and the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Science ObjectivesIsotope sampling

To determine:

  • Spatial & temporal variability in annual isotope ratios
  • Climate reconstruction
  • Processes of isotope variation
  • Ice core depth-age scale
  • Linkages to lower latitude climate change

The image: Strict procedures are required to avoid polluting the samples.


  • Analysis of firn & ice cores & surface samplesDigging a snow pit
  • Measure mean annual stable isotope ratios
  • Transect sampling over a wide range of accumulation rate
  • Combine results with measurements of physical properties, atmospheric modeling

The image: It is modern science, but some old ways are never outdated.

There is limited pre-existing isotopic data from this sector of the continent. These samples will allow us to fill in a large blank on the map in terms of average annual isotopic composition, which is a useful part of large-scale climate models. It is also possible that the cores will allow us to reconstruct some aspects of climate change over the last few hundred to one thousand years. The low accumulation rate along the traverse means that climatic reconstruction will be difficult, but provides an excellent opportunity to study the details of the deposition and metamorphism of stable isotope ratios and other geochemistry.

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