Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Principal research area

Among all paleo-archives, only non-temperated glaciers may allow the reconstruction of climate as well as of environmental records. Appropriate ice core studies may thus allow to investigate the intriguing problem about the mutual relationships between changes of climate and bio-geochemical cycles through a retrospective approach.

Main methods

In this context, the "Ice and Climate" group concentrates on investigations of various non-temperated glaciers, which are mainly sampled by ice core drillings. In the related studies following ice core signals, backed up by standard physical ice properties and glaciological constraints are deployed:
  • stable water-isotopomeres δ18O- δD (isotope-thermometry)
  • concentration and size distribution of insoluble particles (i.e. mineral dust)
  • trace constituents of the ice matrix (major ions, trace elements and organic carbon)
  • natural and man made radionuclides (terrestical 210Pb, cosmogenic10Be, 26Al & 36Cl, man made 3H & 137Cs)
  • various isotopic fingerprints ( δ15N-nitrate, δ14C)
  • Noble gases including their stable isotopes

Main objectives and methods

Apart from joint polar ice core studies mostly performed in the frame work of large international projects , emphasis is thereby on the selfcontained study of non-temperated alpine glaciers. Such small scale drill sites are unique in supplementing high latitude ice core findings, though depiction of reliable atmospheric signals is much more complex here.

In addition to ice core analyses (deserving application of novel techniques and species), process-oriented field studies, aimed at understanding the transfer of the atmospheric signals into the glacier archive, play a central role in IUP research. In this context, long term atmospheric observations, glacio-chemical and glaciological surveys are performed at high alpine and polar sites, which are essentially based on extensive collaborations within the ice core community.

Major collaborations

  • Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (various polar investigations, including EPICA)
  • Laboratoire de Glaciolocique et Geophisique-CRNS, Grenoble (alpine ice cores and lake Vostok ice)
  • Geographical Institute of the University Zürich( alpine glaciology and glacio-meteorology)
  • Klima und Umweltphysik, University Bern (ice core drilling and analyses),
  • VERA-laboratory, Institut für Isotopenforschung und Kernphysik der Universität Wien (AMS-analyses)
  • Institute for Limnology and Biology, University Innsbruck (ice biology and high alpine lake sediments)
  • British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge (Berkner Island Project)
  • Christoph Spötl (ice cave investigations)
  • Reinhard Böhm (alpine climatology)

Current Research Topics

  • Cold Alpine glaciers as climate and environtmental archive
  • Glaciological constraints of Alpine drill sites
  • History of climate forcing by the European aerosol body
  • Long term atmosperic observation of Antarctic trace constitutents and their relation to deposited snow
  • Recent change of cosmogenic radionuclides and theit relation to solar activity
  • Distribution and temporal changes of organic carbon in Alpine and polar ice cores
  • Increase of radiogenic Helium in the near bed rock section of Greenland and Antarctic ice cores
  • Exploration of cosmogenic 26Al for the dating of very old ice
  • Age distribution, isotope properties and mass balance of Alpine cave ice archives




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