Ancient Buried Ice in Antarctica
Meet the Team
Associate Professor - Jacquelyn Hams
Jacquelyn (Jackie) Hams is an Associate Professor of Earth Science at Los Angeles Valley Community College, where she teaches Physical Geology, Introduction to Oceanography, Environmental Science, and Planetary Science to many first generation college students. Ms. Hams has a scientific background in environmental and subsurface investigations in terrestrial and marine environments and experience working with Fortune 100 companies as an environmental consultant and as a petroleum geologist. Ms. Hams holds a Master's degree in Geology and enjoys sailing and outdoor photography.
Researcher - Dave Marchant
Dr. Dave Marchant has led 21 field expeditions to Antarctica. His research interests are in the fields of glacial and periglacial geomorphology, global climate change, and planetary geology. In his research, he links traditional geomorphic field observations in ice-free areas of the continent with state-of-the-art geophysical, remote sensing, and dating techniques. Dr. Marchant is currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Earth Sciences at Boston University. You can read more about Dr. Marchant and his research here [http://people.bu.edu/marchant/research/buriedice.html]
Researcher - Sean Mackay
Sean Mackay is a graduate student at Boston University. Coming from private industry, Mr. Mackay draws upon experience in applied research working as PI in a research-oriented atmospheric and environmental engineering firm. His interests are in numerical modeling approaches to quantifying glacial and periglacial geomorphic processes, the enhanced use of digital technologies to facilitate earth science analysis, and global climate change. Mr. Mackay is also the senior visualization specialists for the BU ES Digital Imagery and Analysis Laboratory (DIAL).
Where are They?
The McMurdo Dry Valleys are located on the western coast of McMurdo Sound (77°00'S 162°52'E) and form the largest relatively ice-free area (approximately 4800 square kilometers) on the Antarctic continent. The perennially ice-covered lakes, frozen alpine glaciers, and extensive areas of exposed soil and permafrost within the McMurdo Dry Valleys are subject to low temperatures, limited snowfall, and salt accumulation. In the coldest and driest part of this region, where the team will set up camp, liquid water is basically non-existent and the landscape has remained frozen in time for millions of years. Walking through Beacon Valley today is akin to walking back in time; the 10+ million-year-old landscape gives the researchers a glimpse of what the world was like millions of years before the first recorded events in human history.
What are they Doing?
A small team of earth scientists and engineers used a specialized drill to reach buried ice deposits in Beacon Valley—a part of the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica. Buried ice deposits represent a new and potentially far-reaching archive of Earth’s atmosphere and climate. If the drill operations are successful, the team will retrieve ice cores, which will enable the research team to gain access to a record of atmospheric and climatic change extending back for many millions of years. The ice being drilled is estimated to be over several million years in age, making it by far the oldest ice yet known on this planet.
Simultaneously, the team is working in the Dry Valleys to seek a better understanding of surface processes above buried ice on Earth, for insight into Martian history and the potential for life on Mars. The cold-polar desert of the Dry Valleys is one of the most Mars-like climatic environments and landscapes on Earth.
Additionally, the tea continued to investigate the timing of tundra extinction in Antarctica. Collaborating with colleagues from North Dakota State University, the team examined ancient lake beds outside of Beacon Valley that contain freeze-dried remnants of mosses, beetles, and diatoms, all of which underwent rapid extinction around 13.9 million years ago. For the past 13.9 million years, climate conditions in the Dry Valleys have been too cold for even the hardiest of tundra plants and animals; fortunately, however, the conditions have been ideal for long-term preservation of multi-million year old, buried ice.
Dr. Marchant explains the significance of sampling in Beacon Valley in this video.
|Create a Topographic Profile of Beacon Valley||Overview Beacon Valley is recognized by scientists as one of the most Mars-like environments on...||Lesson|
|Beacon Valley Weather||Overview The Dry Valleys region in Antarctica is known as the coldest, windiest, driest place on...||Lesson|