Skip navigation

Dr. Ailsa Benton - Profile

photo of Dr. Ailsa Benton Ice Core Analytical Scientist

+44 (0)1223 221400

British Antarctic Survey
Madingley Road, High Cross
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0ET United Kingdom


As an Ice Core Analytical Scientist,  I develop and use a continuous flow analysis (CFA) system for measuring chemicals present in ice cores which have been drilled in Antarctica and Greenland. This work is part of the Chemistry and Past Climate Programme. I use techniques such as spectrofluorometry, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) and fast ion chromatography (FIC), to analyse the chemical constituents of polar ice cores and reveal information about the environmental conditions of the past.

I use new analytical methods to improve our understanding of ice core dating, weather patterns, climatic change and pollution events on sub-annual to multi-millennial timescales. Some of my current research focuses on warming records in and around the Antarctic Peninsula; and the development of analytical techniques for tracing organic markers of biomass burning.

Prior to joining BAS my academic work centred on trace gases in both urban and marine atmospheres, the development of analytical techniques for measuring atmospheric composition; and modelling of the oxidative capacity of the lower atmosphere.

Positions Held

2010-Present: Ice Core Analytical Scientist, British Antarctic Survey

2014: Visiting Fellow, Early Human Impact Programme, Università Ca’Foscari, Venice, Italy.


Ph.D., University of Cambridge, 2010; Studies of trace gases in the troposphere using broadband cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy.

M.Chem., University of Leeds, 2005; Laboratory studies of atmospheric iodine chemistry.

Field deployments

My field deployements include the following multinational projects:

-PALMER Land Drilling. Science leader for a 3 month project to drill three 140m cores at separate sites along the South of the Antarctic Peninsula.

-NEEM: North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling. A comprehensive 2.5 km deep ice core drilling and analysis campaign at 77 degrees north.

-REPARTEE: Regent's Park and Tower Experiments. Measurements of nitrate radical and dinitrogen pentoxide concentrations at 160m altitude above central London on the BT tower.

-RHAMBLE: Reactive Halogens in the Marine Boundary Layer. -NERC ship "Discovery" scientific cruise in the mid Atlantic.

-BIOFLUX II: Biogenic Aerosol and Gas Fluxes, Mace Head Atmospheric Research Centre, Co. Galway, Ireland.