2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Reconstructing carbon-14 of atmospheric carbon monoxide from Law Dome, Antarctica to constrain long-term hydroxyl radical variability

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I-160-E Research Location(s): Law Dome


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Paul Cutler

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Vasilii Victorovich Petrenko
University of Rochester
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Rochester, New York


Supporting Stations: Special Project
Research Locations: Law Dome


Hydroxyl radicals are responsible for removing most atmospheric pollutants and greenhouse gases and have been called the "detergent of the atmosphere." Changes in hydroxyl radical concentration in response to large changes in reactive trace-gas emissions, which may happen in the future, are uncertain. Researchers aim to provide the first estimates of atmospheric hydroxyl radicals' variability since 1880 AD when reactive trace gases' emissions from human activity were minimal. This will improve understanding of hydroxyl radical stability in response to large emissions changes. Researchers will also study whether ice cores show past changes in Southern Hemisphere westerly winds, which are a key component of the global climate system and have an important influence on ocean circulation and possibly on atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations.

Field Season Overview

A team of five, including two Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) personnel, will deploy to Law Dome with support from the Australian Antarctic Division. They will run three sampling operations. The first will drill one borehole to about 90 meters with the US three-inch Eclipse drill and sample firn air at a range of depths. The second will drill two boreholes to about 93 meters with the US Blue Ice Drill and perform on-site gas extractions from recovered ice in the 73 to 93 meter depth range. The third will drill two boreholes to about 233 meters with the US 4-inch drill and perform on-site gas extractions from recovered ice in the 93 to 223 meter depth range. Some of these ice cores will be sent to the home institution for further analyses.

Deploying Team Members

  • Grant Boeckmann
  • Edward Crosier
  • David Etheridge (Co-PI)
  • Tanner Kuhl
  • Peter Neff
  • Vasilii Petrenko (PI)
  • Andrew Smith (Co-PI)
  • Richard Smith
  • David Thornton