With generous support from:
In 2013, a joint venture of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, and the SoHP retrieved a 73-meter (240ft) ice core from the Colle Gnifetti glacier in the Swiss Alps. Analysis of the ice core, at the Climate Change Institute, is producing invaluable new data about climate change and human-climate interactions from the last ca. 2,000 years. Concurrently, Harvard historians are combing pre-industrial written records to create a new geo-database of climate events, which complements the scientific data.
As documented here, a seven-person team from the Climate Change Institute, the Institut für Umweltphysik, University of Heidelberg (Germany) and the Physics Institute, University of Bern (Switzerland), recovered the ice core over the course of one week at the Colle Gnifetti (CG) glacier saddle of the Monte Rosa Massif (4450 m.a.s.l.). It will be analyzed using a host of technologies not available when previous CG cores were drilled and featuring a path-breaking collaboration of humanists and scientists.
To this end the University of Maine and Harvard University have been producing ultra-high-resolution measurements of dust and other impurities using state-of-the-art laser based technology developed in the Climate Change Institute’s W. M. Keck Laser Ice Facility at the Climate Change Institute and a new historical geodatabase of the climate of pre-modern Europe from written sources, collected and analyzed at Harvard.
The resulting records are allowing the first detailed, ice core-based assessment of human-climate interactions during the last two millennia. The new technology is minimally destructive and will allow the permanent preservation of the new ice core record. The project is supported by a grant from the Arcadia Foundation.
Evaluation of this unique archive involved researchers from Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Bremerhaven (Germany) and the Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg (Switzerland), and the University of Nottingham, (U.K.).
Photos by Dr. Nicole Spaulding
Dr. Nicole Spaulding describes how laser ablation extracts ancient
ice particles for mass spectrometry of chemical signals of
climate change from the SoHP Colle Gnifetti Historical Ice Core
Landmark publications quickly followed:
Alexander More et al., "The role of historical context in understanding past climate, pollution and health data in trans-disciplinary studies," GeoHealth (AGU), 2, 162-170 (2018), DOI:10.1029/2017GH000121.
Pascal Bohleber et al., "Temperature and mineral dust variability recorded in two low-accumulation Alpine ice cores over the last millennium," Climate of the Past, 14, 21-37 (2018), https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-14-21-2018
Nicole Spaulding et al., "A New Multielement Method for LA-ICP-MS Data Acquisition from Glacier Ice Cores," Environmental Science and Technology, 51.22, 13282–13287 (2017) DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b03950
Loveluck et al., "Alpine ice-core evidence for the transformation of the European monetary system, AD 640 670," Antiquity 2018 https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2018.110
Alexander More, et al., "Next Generation Ice Core Technology Reveals True Minimum Natural Levels of Lead (Pb) in the Atmosphere: Insights from the Black Death," GeoHealth (AGU), 1, 211-219 (2017) (DOI: 10.1002/2017GH000064)
Matthew Luongo et al., Possible Icelandic Tephra Found in European Colle Gnifetti Glacier, G-Cubed (AGU), 18.11 (2017) (DOI: 10.1002/2017GC007022)
Sharon Sneed et al., "New LA-ICP-MS cryocell and calibration technique for sub-millimeter analysis of ice cores," Journal of Glaciology, 61.226, 233-242 (2015) doi: 10.3189/2015JoG14J139.