Optimal site selection for a high-resolution ice core record in East Antarctica

Tessa R. Vance*, Jason L. Roberts, Andrew D. Moy, Mark A.J. Curran, Carly R. Tozer, Ailie J.E. Gallant, Nerilie J. Abram, Tas D. Van Ommen, Duncan A. Young, Cyril Grima, Don D. Blankenship, Martin J. Siegert

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Ice cores provide some of the best-dated and most comprehensive proxy records, as they yield a vast and growing array of proxy indicators. Selecting a site for ice core drilling is nonetheless challenging, as the assessment of potential new sites needs to consider a variety of factors. Here, we demonstrate a systematic approach to site selection for a new East Antarctic high-resolution ice core record. Specifically, seven criteria are considered: (1) 2000-year-old ice at 300 m depth; (2) above 1000 m elevation; (3) a minimum accumulation rate of 250 mm years-1 IE (ice equivalent); (4) minimal surface reworking to preserve the deposited climate signal; (5) a site with minimal displacement or elevation change in ice at 300 m depth; (6) a strong teleconnection to midlatitude climate; and (7) an appropriately complementary relationship to the existing Law Dome record (a high-resolution record in East Antarctica). Once assessment of these physical characteristics identified promising regions, logistical considerations (for site access and ice core retrieval) were briefly considered. We use Antarctic surface mass balance syntheses, along with ground-truthing of satellite data by airborne radar surveys to produce all-of-Antarctica maps of surface roughness, age at specified depth, elevation and displacement change, and surface air temperature correlations to pinpoint promising locations. We also use the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast ERA 20th Century reanalysis (ERA-20C) to ensure that a site complementary to the Law Dome record is selected. We find three promising sites in the Indian Ocean sector of East Antarctica in the coastal zone from Enderby Land to the Ingrid Christensen Coast (50-100° E). Although we focus on East Antarctica for a new ice core site, the methodology is more generally applicable, and we include key parameters for all of Antarctica which may be useful for ice core site selection elsewhere and/or for other purposes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)595-610
    Number of pages16
    JournalClimate of the Past
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2016


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