Current and Future Projects
Most of our research investigates the interlinked history of greenhouse gases and climate, and related topics like ice core dating, method development, and various other things.
Current projects include:
Holocene carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide dynamics from the South Pole Ice Core (SPICE). We are using carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotopes to try to understand why these two gases change during the last 10,000 years and to constrain the role of early human activities on their abundance. This follows earlier late Holocene CO2 work on the WAIS Divide ice core (Bauska et al., 2014).
Atmospheric records from the Taylor Glacier ablation zone. With collaborators at University of Rochester and Scripps Institution of Oceanography we are mapping ancient ice outcrops on Taylor Glacier in Antarctica, and using large samples taken from the glacier near surface for high precision measurements of gases and their isotopic composition. Recent work reconstructs the d13C of atmospheric CO2 (Bauska et al., 2016) and the isotopic composition of N2O (Schilt et al., 2014).
Greenhouse gas dynamics during the last ice age from the WAIS Divide Ice Core. We are using the very high resolution WAIS Divide ice core to investigate the fine details of abrupt changes in atmospheric CO2 (Marcott et al., 2014) and methane (Rhodes et al., 2015). New work on WAIS Divide will use the isotopic composition of CO2 and methane to track causes of abrupt change in these gases and investigate the cause of methane changes using the interhemispheric methane gradient.
Ice core chronology and the bi-polar see saw. Gas records, particularly methane concentration records, provide a way to synchronize ice core records and precisely compare climate data from different locations. Applications include detailed constraints on the timing of the bipolar see saw (WAIS Community, 2015) and dating the new RICE ice core from Roosevelt Island in Antarctica.
Continuous gas measurements in ice cores. We are using laser spectroscopy and continuous melter systems to measure gases continuously (Rhodes et al., 2013), with applications in the above work and detailed studies of trace gas anomalies in ice cores. We now deploy these systems in the field and are working on isotopic analyzers.
Studies of 1 Ma old ice from Alan Hills, Antarctica. With colleagues from Princeton and University of Maine we are making the oldest direct greenhouse gas measurements known, in isolated pockets of 1 Ma ice in Antarctica (Higgins et al, 2015). New ice samples will provide more material for this work.
Other things we do:
We developed high precision carbon isotope measurements for atmospheric CO2 in ice (Bauska et al., 2014), isotopic measurements of N2O (Schilt et al., 2014) and are now starting to develop methane isotopic measurements. We are exploring the mysteries of total air content in ice cores, and occasionally working on extraterrestrial dust in ice (Brook et al., 2009) and cosmogenic isotopes in rocks.