Awards - Round 4

The Antarctic Funding Initiative [AFI] is aimed at promoting a wider participation in Antarctic field-based research by UK universities and other research organisations. The programme was introduced in a phased manner, and is now operating at its full funding level of 1.5m per annum.

The AFI Moderating Panel met on 25 April 2002 to evaluate 18 full applications that were received. Six proposals were selected to be funded for research starting in the 2004/05 Antarctic field season. The Panel also approved the support of an additional application submitted under the Collaborative Gearing Scheme.

On 4th April 2002, NERC agreed to achieve savings of 132 million (2002-03 to 2003-04). This included savings to existing programmes, slipping current thematic programmes, delaying some planned initiatives and controlling costs within NERC Research Centres. For further details, see the announcement on the NERC website. Because of the financial difficulties that NERC was facing, it was necessary to defer the start date of all successful AFI round 4 projects until the 2004/5 field season.

An Announcement of Opportunity for AFI Round 5 was launched in early June 2002, as originally planned.



Professor H Elderfield, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
Dr Raja Ganeshram, Grant Institute of Geology and Geophysics, University of Edinburgh
Dr RosalindRickaby, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford
Dr Christina de la Rocha, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

"Behaviour of trace element and isotope ratios of sea-ice brine and microalgae: reconstructing the Antarctic sea-ice environment" [AFI4/02]

Our ability to reconstruct past conditions of Southern Ocean surface waters is critical to our understanding of the causes of glacial-interglacial differences in atmospheric concentrations of CO2.The extent to which sedimentation of materials (with anomalous isotopic and trace element signatures) produced within sea-ice confounds reconstructions has not been quantified, although it is starting to be recognized as a problem.Detailed study of the behaviour of isotope- and trace element-based proxies with carbon and nutrient cycling within sea-ice would be a significant step towards resolving the sea-ice problem and vastly improving proxy-based reconstructions of nutrient cycling in the Southern Ocean over glacial-interglacial cycles.

Professor D H W Hutton, School of Earth Sciences, University of Birmingham
Dr W H Owens, School of Earth Sciences, University of Birmingham
Dr M LCurtis, Geological Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Dr P T Leat, Geological Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey

"Testing Gondwana break up and plume models:constraints from magma flow directions" [AFI4/05]

Models concerning the location of mantle plumes and triple junctions associated with the Mesozoic break-up of Gondwana in the Antarctic-southern Africa sector may be capable of independent testing, other than by geochemical and age dating methods.We propose to directly determine the regional flow directions of the magmas in dyke and sill complexes in the areas of postulated plume heads and related triple points on the opposing conjugate margins.We will utilise the Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility to determine magmatic flow directions and constrain these with macroscopic observations of flow indicators.

Dr T Jickells, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
Professor A Clarke, Biological Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Dr MBrandon, Dept of Earth Sciences, The Open University
Dr Michael Meredith, Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Mr P Dennis, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

"Biogeochemical particle flux study in Marguerite Bay, Antarctic Peninsula" [AFI4/13]

This proposal requests funds to augment existing BAS core sampling in Marguerite Bay offshore of Rothera research base and to deploy two moorings in Marguerite Bay.The moorings will be instrumented with sediment traps, current meters, ADCP, thermistor chains and CTDs.The overall goal is to quantify the magnitude and control of biogeochemical and physical fluxes in Marguerite Bay.

Dr R D Larter, Geological Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
Dr C J Pudsey, Geological Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Dr P Morris, Geological Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey

"Glacial-interglacial changes in the lost drainage basin of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet" [AFI4/17]

Sparse existing data suggest that a very dynamic glacial system has deposited vast quantities of sediment in the Bellingshausen Sea.From ~84-88°W the continental slope comprises a trough-mouth fan (TMF) with a gradient of ~1.5°, in sharp contrast to the slope farther NE which is much steeper (>10°).A 150 km-wide trough on the outer shelf suggests that the TMF was fed by a major previously unrecognised ice stream, that may have drained >300,000 km² of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).We will use swath bathymetry and acoustic profiles to track the course of this ice stream back towards its source, inferring subglacial processes from shelf morphology.Sediment cores on the shelf and slope will reveal the nature of glacial and post-glacial deposition, and the timing of ice retreat.Palaeo-ice stream dimensions will be used to constrain thermo-mechanical models of the WAIS.

Dr G Marshall, Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Mr J Turner, Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Dr R Mulvaney, Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Dr T A Lachlan-Cope, Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey

"Improving ice core interpretation: the role of storm-track changes on sub-annual peninsula precipitation variability" [AFI4/09]

Ice cores are a primary data-source for information on past climate but transfer functions between the data they contain and climate variables are often essentially speculative.This proposal will significantly advance ice-core interpretation techniques through a uniquely detailed analysis of relationships between Antarctic Peninsula accumulation and regional climate.The primary benefit will be an enhanced capability to deduce reliable evidence of climate change from ice cores.Ice-core chemistry will be related directly to storm track variability derived from atmospheric reanalysis datasets.One year's accumulation from three new 15-m ice cores, accurately calibrated by acoustic snow-depth instruments, will be utilised to develop robust chemistry-climate relationships that will be subsequently validated using the remainder of the cores.

Dr D G Vaughan, Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey
Dr Robert J Arthern, Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey

"Correction, verification and context, of satellite-derived elevation changes on the Antarctic Peninsula (CVaCS-DECAP)" [AFI4/16]

High snowfall, rapid ice flow and recent climate change mean that the Antarctic Peninsula may make a disproportionate contribution to sea level change.Interpretation of changes in ice-sheet surface elevation observed by forthcoming satellite missions may be ambiguous due to several causes.We will make independent in-situ measurements using a suite of instruments to give a complete and independent description of the ice-surface elevation changes, snow accumulation and densification, and formulate a new densification model for firn that may in due course be used to correct the satellite measurements.We will also determine if the current mass flux through the ice-sheet surface is balanced by the long-term (~100 year) accumulation rate - a direct measurement of the state-of-balance of the ice sheet.

Awarded under the Collaborative Gearing Scheme (CGS)

Dr A J Hodson, Geography Department, University of Sheffield
Dr K Newsham, British Antarctic Survey

"Nutrient fluxes and cycling in snow and ice-covered catchments of the maritime Antarctic: sensitivity to climate change" [CGS4/08]

This project will elucidate the magnitude, timing and bioavailability of nutrient fluxes transported by meltwaters from two snow and ice-covered catchments in Signy Island. The study will therefore examine nutrient transport and cycling in a region that is sensitive to climate change. This sensitivity will be quantified though estimation of integrated water, sediment and nutrient budgets using methods developed in the High Arctic. In particular, detailed budgets of N,P,C and Si fractions will be estimated to identify important loci for nutrient acquisition/transformation and to indicatenutrient losses during groundthaw. Emphasis will be given to accurate nutrient provenance determination using stable isotope abundance and also to nutrient leaching and adsorption/desorption rates from sediments using laboratory experimentation in the UK.