Reconstructing ice dynamics in Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica (RIDDLE)

Name of applicant

Jane Lund Andersen


DKK 350,000



Type of grant

Internationalisation Fellowships


Ice masses on Earth are undergoing major changes. However, to relate these changes to a long-term climate perspective we rely on the geological record. Past volume changes of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet have been assessed through marine records, yet, a relatively untapped terrestrial source of information exists on ice-free mountains (nunataks) protruding the ice sheet. In this project, I will reconstruct past ice-sheet dynamics in the Dronning Maud Land sector of East Antarctica by developing new methods to date the exposure age of rocks at the surface.


The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is the largest ice sheet on Earth holding water corresponding to 58 m of sea-level equivalent. Although total collapse of the ice sheet is unlikely in the near future, even modest volume changes can have a significant impact on global sea level. By reconstructing past ice-sheet configurations we can improve our understanding of the complex links between climate, topography and ice in Antarctica. This project aims at providing a dataset to test and improve ice-sheet models, ultimately leading to better future ice-volume and sea-level change predictions.


To constrain the timing of past ice-sheet changes, I will analyse rare isotopes created by interaction with cosmic radiation in rock samples collected from nunataks in Dronning Maud Land. Cosmogenic analyses are routinely done in quartz minerals, however, key areas in Dronning Maud Land lack quartz-bearing rocks. I will therefore develop the cosmogenic method in feldspar minerals that are more abundant at the Earth's surface. Furthermore, by analysing multiple cosmogenic isotopes, I will constrain potentially complex exposure- and burial histories.

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