A five-member team from North Dakota State University’s Department of Geosciences heads to Antarctica this October to conduct research on Antarctica’s climate history.
The team, whose research is funded by the National Science Foundation, includes Allan Ashworth, distinguished professor of geosciences; Adam Lewis, assistant professor of geosciences; geology undergraduate students Michael Ginsbach and Chad Crotty, and Alex Smith, graduate student in environmental and conservation sciences.
The team will divide their efforts between mapping glacial deposits and collecting fossils of tundra plants and animals from which they will derive estimates of summer temperatures. Smith will focus his graduate research on using deposits of volcanic ash to precisely date the ancient glacial deposits. Initial work suggests the fossils are more than 19 million years old, suggesting they date from a time before the continent was buried beneath the massive ice sheet of today.
The team flies to New Zealand to be supplied with cold-weather gear before heading to McMurdo Station, the U.S. National Science Foundation's base of Antarctic operations. From McMurdo, the NDSU team will establish a helicopter-supported tent camp in the Dry Valleys region and later will move by ski-equipped aircraft to Oliver Bluffs, some 300 miles from the South Pole. Work at Oliver Bluffs presents unique challenges. Long supply routes complicate logistics and the terrain includes glacier ice, loose rocky soils and near-vertical cliff faces. The team will spend seven weeks in the field before returning to Fargo in late December.
To encourage K-12 students’ interest in science, the NDSU team will make weekly contact with several elementary and middle school classrooms in the Fargo, N.D.-Moorhead, Minn., area using a satellite phone system. Ginsbach, who is pursuing a second major in education, is coordinating communications through Ben Franklin Middle School, Fargo, N.D. The group plans to relay weekly research goals to participating classrooms, with follow-up conversations to discuss successes and setbacks.
The areas of Antarctica that the NDSU field team will conduct research are areas where Ashworth started his Antarctic research 15 years ago. As Ashworth expects this to be his last research expedition to Antarctica, he says his many expeditions to the frozen continent and the rewards of the research have been a “totally uplifting experience not to have been missed.”
Previously, an international team of scientists including NDSU’s Ashworth and Lewis, and David Marchant, an earth scientist at Boston University, combined evidence from glacial geology, paleoecology, dating of volcanic ashes and computer modeling, to report a major climate change centered on 14 million years ago. The earlier discovery of fossilized ostracods received global interest.
Ashworth and Lewis, along with then NDSU students Andrew Podoll and Kelly Gorz, were featured in the documentary, “Ice People,” by Emmy-award-winning filmmaker Anne Aghion. The film has been screened at science museums and film festivals in Australia, Vancouver, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Jerusalem and Fargo.
The Ashworth Glacier within the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica has been named after Dr. Ashworth, honoring his significant contribution to science (palaenontology and stratigraphy) in Antarctica. Discoveries by Ashworth and his teams in Oliver Bluffs in the Beardmore region include the first fossil beetles and a fossil fly from Antarctica, as well as fossil mosses and seeds showing that Antarctica was not always the cold, icy place that it is today.
Ashworth currently serves as chair of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union for Quaternary Research and is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Quaternary Science.
The research described here is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation’s Polar Programs.For more information:
Dr. Allan Ashworth | Newswise Science News
Fossil coral reefs show sea level rose in bursts during last warming
19.10.2017 | Rice University
NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters
17.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy