The Thule field team is now home, and happy to report that we had a very successful field season. After some initial windy weather, the low-pressure system finally left the Arctic and gave us a week and a half of clear skies and bright sun. We managed to accomplish a huge amount of work. Highlights include collecting a shallow ice core from North Ice Cap, collecting 20 samples from bedrock and boulders for beryllium-10 dating, collecting lake sediment cores from several different lakes, and finding fossil plant material melting out from the ice cap margin.
Although there are many components of our project, we hope to use a variety of different methods together to understand how North Ice Cap has behaved over the Holocene (the past ~11,000 years). In particular, we’re interested in how the extent of the ice cap has changed over time. Did it grow during cold periods and shrink during warm periods? Has it been bigger in the past than it is now? If so, how much bigger? And maybe more fundamentally, how old is the ice cap? We’ll continue to explore these questions over the coming year as we analyze the samples and data collected during this field season.
Team Thule admires a long lake sediment core extracted from “Delta So”. We hope this core will tell us about how the ice cap margin has behaved during the past. From background to foreground: Matt Bigl, Meredith Kelly, and Erich Osterberg.
Although we worked hard in the field, we also had the opportunity to admire our surroundings and appreciate how fortunate we are to work in this area. The last lake we camped at was particularly beautiful; this ice-marginal lake had a large calving margin, and we were routinely entertained by calving events which sent small tidal waves and ice bergs by our tents.
Overall, we had a very successful field season and I’m excited to be back at Dartmouth to analyze samples and interpret data. Thank you to my field team (Professors Meredith Kelly and Erich Osterberg, post-doctoral fellow Eric Lutz, MS student Matt Bigl, and undergraduate students Ellen Roy and John Thompson) for all their hard work, and to the field planning and logistics gurus at CPS (especially Kim Derry and Joe Hurley) for making everything happen. Stay tuned for some exciting results over the coming year!