History of Greenland Ice Drilling

Comments and Documents on Planning GISP2

1. Mayewski and Broecker on mobilizing scientists
2. Minutes of Boston Meeting, January 1987
3. Funding Prospects, March 1988

1. Mayewski and Broecker on mobilizing scientists

Paul Mayewski, from interview on 6 May 1994

However there was a tremendous amount of interest in general in the country for pursuing this sort of work. So the National Academy of Sciences thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of organized body .... We had a meeting in Seattle ... [and] I ended up being first chairman of the Ice Core Working Group because I had many years of field experience ... [and because] there didn't seem to be interest [among the older, experienced field researchers] in necessarily spearheading something like the Ice Core Working Group. So I took on the task of organizing the U.S. community through a series of workshops and reports in which I identified via questionnaires [around] 92 institutions in the United States that wanted to study ice cores.

Wallace Broecker, from interview on 2 July 1992

I think a number of us didn't like the ring of it [Dansgaard's suggestion that Europeans and Americans each drill their own core]. During the two days [of discussions in Boston in January 1987], thinking about it, we all agreed to it and I think went away reasonably happy about it. Since then I think it was a brilliant idea .... There will be some duplication, but things like the cosmogenic isotopes and carbon 14 take a lot of ice, [and] I am sure there will be agreements worked out that this just isn't needlessly duplicated. I suppose the logistics did cost the world more, but I would say this is the single most important paleoclimatic record .... There have been two criticisms of the plan. One was the duplication. The other was it would turn into a scientific race. I think there is a modest amount of duplication, but as I said I think that is good and not bad. The scientific race really hasn't materialized in any bad way.

Paul Mayewski, from interview on 6 May 1994

We met [in Boston] and basically hashed out the details of how scientists wanted to work together, and our decision ... [was to] produce two separate cores. Our reasoning ... received a great deal of criticism because it cost extra money in the process, ... [but] it's the smartest thing that we ever did .... Now we have an immense amount of confidence in the resolution of these records.

2. Minutes of Boston Meeting, January 1987

[Editor's note: The following is excerpted from an unattributed summary of the January 1987 meeting organized by Broecker. The summary is labeled the "April 1, 1987 version." As is common enough in official minutes, the author made extensive use of passive voice and (deliberately?) did not convey any of the meeting's spirit, summarize any ideas the participants rejected, or justify the accepted ideas. More vivid accounts of the meeting are desirable for the historical record. (The original document has superscripting and subscripting that does not show in this version.)]

Document provided by Wallace Broecker

At an ad hoc meeting held in Boston on January 26, 1987, a group of scientists interested in the paleoenvironmental record contained in polar ice met to see whether a European-American accord could be achieved on a joint drilling program at the Summit Site in central Greenland .... It was recommended that two holes at least 10 km apart be bored in central Greenland. One would be drilled by a European team ... The other would be drilled by an American team .... Each group would have its own base and drill. The Europeans would use the existing Danish drill. The Americans would use a drill to be built in the U.S., based on the ideas behind the Danish drill.

It was suggested that part of the ice from each hole be archived .... The remainder would be used for measurements to be carried out by the PIs of the program .... Included in this PI measurement program would be the following properties:

1) stable isotopes in the ice (i.e., 18O/16 and D/H),

2) measurements on gases contained in the ice (total gas content CO2, 13C/12C, O2, 18O/16O, Ne, 22Ne/20Ne, N2, 15N/14N, N2O, Ch4, D/H, 3He/4He...)

3) measurements of cosmogenic isotopes in the ice (10Be, 14C, 26Al, 36Cl, 81Kr...)

4) measurements of chemical constituents in the ice (Cl-, SO4=, NO3-, F-, H2O2, organics...)

5) measurements of particulates in ice.

6) measurements of physical and mechanical properties of ice (viscosity, crystal size and orientation, clathrates...)

7) bore hole studies (temperature, creep...).

.... A drilling schedule will be set. If either group falls behind the schedule, the other will not be forced to wait.

If the American program is to be successful, the PIs will have to have direct control of the people working on drill development and in the field.

3. Funding Prospects, March 1988

[Editor's note: At a "Bidders Conference" held 9 March 1988 as part of NSF's process for awarding a contract for the Polar Ice Coring Office, Sam Treves of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln asked for "specific plans or projections for GISP II and the likehood that it's going to happen." NSF officials were not satisfied with the quality of the answers they were able to provide on the spot and subsequently sent those attending the conference the following additional information. The additional statement implies that GISP II's prospects depended on Congressional response to a new initiative generated from within NSF's Division of Polar Programs.]

Document provided by Hermann Zimmerman

Answers to Questions raised at the Preproposal Conference

In response to Mr. Treves' question concerning the plans and projections for GISP II (p. 27), the following is submitted:

The Division of Polar Programs has sponsored an initiative entitled "Paleoclimates from Ice Cores". That initiative encompasses a global ice coring program whose aim is to recover and utilize ice cores from both polar regions and from temperature regions as a contribution to the Foundation's Global Geosciences Program. The first project in the Paleoclimates from Ice Cores program is GISP II, an activity designed to retrieve a deep ice core from central Greenland. The target depth of 3200 meters is expected to yield a paleoclimatic and atmospheric record of approximately 200,000 years.

Activities in anticipation of GISP II have included drill design and fabrication of a prototype model, development of a science plan, and the preliminary identification of an acceptable drill site. Current plans call for a five year drilling program commencing in FY 1989. A field test of the prototype drill and site selection will occur during the 1988 field season.

Included in the NSF current request to the Congress for FY 1989 is $ 2.0M for the initiation of the GISP II project. If that funding is forthcoming, the successful contractor will be tasked to complete development of the appropriate equipment and plan for the required logistical support of the first year's operations in central Greenland. Actual funding levels for FY 1989 and subsequent years will be subject to progress achieved and planning based on the then current situation.

Parallel to these operational activities, the Foundation will accept proposals from the scientific community for management of GISP II scientific activities. The contractor will be tasked to work in close concert with the science management team.

An integrated bipolar approach is essential to our understanding of the history and dynamics of climate and environmental change. An expanded ice core program in Antarctica, including deep drilling, will be an equally important and essential contribution to the Paleoclimates from Ice Core program. Planning is currently underway for these Antarctic and temperate elements of an expanded ice coring program.


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