Fom The Columbia U Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (US): “International Team to Drill Deep Through Antarctic Ice Into Ancient Sediments” 

Fom The Columbia U Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (US)

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Columbia University (US)

November 20, 2021

The research project, dubbed SWAIS 2C, will investigate the sensitivity of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to global warming of 2 degrees Centigrade.

Researchers are preparing to drill through ice into sediments beneath the ocean floor deep below Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf to find out if carbon dioxide emissions targeted in international climate negotiations will head off catastrophic melt of the icy continent.

The research project, dubbed SWAIS 2C, will investigate the sensitivity of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to global warming of 2 degrees Centigrade. Scientists will retrieve sediments from beneath the ice in a bid to find out how the ice behaved during times in the past when temperatures were as warm as those expected in the coming decades. These records could reveal if there is a tipping point in our climate system when large amounts of land-based ice melts, causing oceans to rise swiftly. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet alone holds enough ice to raise sea levels by 4 meters, or about 12 feet.

The SWAIS 2C team includes some of the world’s top Antarctic scientists, led by Richard Levy of GNS Science in New Zealand(NZ), Te Herenga Waka of The Victoria University of Wellington (NZ), and Molly Patterson of The University at Binghampton- (SUNY) (US). In all, researchers from seven U.S. universities will participate. Glaciologist Jonathan Kingslake, geodynamicist Jacqueline Austermann and paleoclimatologist Benjamin Keisling from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are part of the team and will perform ice sheet and solid earth modeling to interpret the sediment cores.

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SWAIS 2C drill sites on Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. (Courtesy GNS Science)

The effort is supported by $3.2 million from The National Science Foundation (US), with the bulk of the funding going to a team of early-career scientists and postdoctoral researchers.

More funding is coming from New Zealand, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea, with several other nations planning to join. The International Continental Scientific Drilling Program has also awarded the project a $1.2 million grant, the first for an Antarctic drilling program.

The other U.S. institutions involved are Colgate University (US), The Northern Illinois University (US), The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (US), The Central Washington University (US) and Rice University (US).

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The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) is the scientific research center of the Columbia Climate School, and a unit of The Earth Institute at Columbia University (US). It focuses on climate and earth sciences and is located on a 189-acre (64 ha) campus in Palisades, New York, 18 miles (29 km) north of Manhattan on the Hudson River.

History

The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) was established in 1949 as the Lamont Geological Observatory on the weekend estate of Thomas W. and Florence Haskell Corliss Lamont, which was donated to the university for that purpose. The Observatory’s founder and first director was Maurice “Doc” Ewing, a seismologist who is credited with advancing efforts to study the solid Earth, particularly in areas related to using sound waves to image rock and sediments beneath the ocean floor. He was also the first to collect sediment core samples from the bottom of the ocean, a common practice today that helps scientists study changes in the planet’s climate and the ocean’s thermohaline circulation.

In 1969, the Observatory was renamed Lamont–Doherty in honor of a major gift from the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation; in 1993, it was renamed the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory in recognition of its expertise in the broad range of Earth sciences. Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory is Columbia University’s Earth sciences research center and is a core component of the Earth Institute, a collection of academic and research units within the university that together address complex environmental issues facing the planet and its inhabitants, with particular focus on advancing scientific research to support sustainable development and the needs of the world’s poor.

To support its research and the work of the broader scientific community, Lamont–Doherty operates the 235-foot (72 m) research vessel, the R/V Marcus Langseth, which is equipped to undertake a wide range of geological, seismological, oceanographic and biological studies. Lamont–Doherty also houses the world’s largest collection of deep-sea and ocean-sediment cores as well as many specialized research laboratories.

Mission statement

The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University is one of the world’s leading research centers developing fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world. More than 300 research scientists and students study the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere, on every continent and in every ocean. From global climate change to earthquakes, volcanoes, nonrenewable resources, environmental hazards and beyond, Observatory scientists provide a rational basis for the difficult choices facing humankind in the planet’s stewardship.

Columbia U Campus
Columbia University (US) was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.

University Mission Statement

Columbia University is one of the world’s most important centers of research and at the same time a distinctive and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields. The University recognizes the importance of its location in New York City and seeks to link its research and teaching to the vast resources of a great metropolis. It seeks to attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries and regions. It expects all areas of the University to advance knowledge and learning at the highest level and to convey the products of its efforts to the world.

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 on the grounds of Trinity Church in Manhattan Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. Columbia is ranked among the top universities in the world by major education publications.

Columbia was established as King’s College by royal charter from King George II of Great Britain in reaction to the founding of Princeton College. It was renamed Columbia College in 1784 following the American Revolution, and in 1787 was placed under a private board of trustees headed by former students Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. In 1896, the campus was moved to its current location in Morningside Heights and renamed Columbia University.

Columbia scientists and scholars have played an important role in scientific breakthroughs including brain-computer interface; the laser and maser; nuclear magnetic resonance; the first nuclear pile; the first nuclear fission reaction in the Americas; the first evidence for plate tectonics and continental drift; and much of the initial research and planning for the Manhattan Project during World War II. Columbia is organized into twenty schools, including four undergraduate schools and 15 graduate schools. The university’s research efforts include the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and accelerator laboratories with major technology firms such as IBM. Columbia is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and was the first school in the United States to grant the M.D. degree. With over 14 million volumes, Columbia University Library is the third largest private research library in the United States.

The university’s endowment stands at $11.26 billion in 2020, among the largest of any academic institution. As of October 2020, Columbia’s alumni, faculty, and staff have included: five Founding Fathers of the United States—among them a co-author of the United States Constitution and a co-author of the Declaration of Independence; three U.S. presidents; 29 foreign heads of state; ten justices of the United States Supreme Court, one of whom currently serves; 96 Nobel laureates; five Fields Medalists; 122 National Academy of Sciences members; 53 living billionaires; eleven Olympic medalists; 33 Academy Award winners; and 125 Pulitzer Prize recipients.