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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Dartmouth College
  • Zoe Courville
  • (603) 646-2230
  • Erich Osterberg
Award Date:09/14/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 966,896
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 966,896
  • FY 2021=$966,896
Start Date:09/15/2021
End Date:08/31/2025
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.078
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: A New Approach to Firn Evolution using the Taylor Dome Natural Laboratory
Federal Award ID Number:2024132
DUNS ID:041027822
Parent DUNS ID:041027822
Program:ANT Glaciology
Program Officer:
  • Paul Cutler
  • (703) 292-4961

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Dartmouth College
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

The transformation of snow into firn and then glacial ice is a fundamental process in glaciology. Understanding it is critical for many applications including the conversion of satellite altimetry measurements into ice-sheet mass changes—a key measure of glacier response to climate change. Better process understanding is also critical for determining the difference in the age of ice and the gas trapped within it. This difference complicates the age-dating of ice cores. Despite its importance, the transformation of snow into firn and then ice is still poorly understood and current predictive models have limited applicability. This project aims to develop a physically based firn-compaction model for the glaciological community. The team will take the first steps toward this goal through a set of field and laboratory experiments combined with model developments. The fieldwork will be at Taylor Dome in Antarctica. This project will introduce a new combination of firn datasets designed to lead to the development of next-generation, physics-based firn models. Advances in ice-core science and satellite altimetry demand firn models that can reliably simulate firn evolution in a range of climatic conditions, in a changing climate, and on long- and short-time scales. Current firn-compaction models are largely based on a steady-state assumption and tuned to particular geographical locations. Advancing beyond these models requires (1) measuring current firn-compaction rates (2) measuring grain-scale microstructures that play a crucial role in firn compaction, and (3) quantifying processes driving evolution of those microstructures. To decouple firn’s sensitivities to accumulation and temperature, the team will measure in situ strain rates by two independent methods and observe trends in microstructure in cores from sites spanning the accumulation gradient at Taylor Dome, while maintaining the same average temperature. The team will assess the ability of phase-sensitive radar to remotely measure firn-compaction rates, potentially simplifying future in situ measurements. This work will create a roadmap for collecting future microstructural data spanning key areas of temperature-accumulation space and simplify future collaborations through the availability of an open-source Community Firn Model. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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