Ice core drilling on Vestfonna

Leader: John Moore                                                      Start of the project: 2006
Research group: Global change                                    End of the project:  2010

Project is funded by Academy of Finland


This is the largest project of the IPY Kinnvika project, and is also one element of the Finnish Kinnvika cryosphere research consortium with Matti Leppäranta (Division of Geophysics, Department of Physical Sciences, University of Helsinki) and Veli-Pekka Salonen (Department of Geology, University of Helsinki).

The Arctic Centre group has been successful in recovering and analysing the Lomonosovfonna ice core which revealed details of climate in Northern Europe, the variability of Arctic, especially Barents Sea sea ice cover, and variability in influence of North Atlantic and Arctic climates around this key area in the Atlantic thermohaline circulation. Previous low-resolution ice cores from Soviet and Japanese expeditions have shown a large potential to extract high-resolution climate records from Vestfonna (on Nordaustlandet). We anticipate that the 350 m thick ice cap preserves at least two millennia of climatic information.

 The sulphate record along the Lomonosovfonna ice core  

The sulphate record along the Lomonosovfonna ice core. The 1963 bomb test layer was detected by radiogenic methods and used to date the core. The two largest peaks and many smaller ones may be due to volcanic spikes, however, to date that can only be confirmed for the 1783 Laki signal where we have located a 7 μm particle that matches Laki tephra chemical composition

The project aims

Make a significant contribution to Finnish International Polar Year activities by running a large scale expedition to Svalbard in both spring and summer seasons, and particularly building cryospheric research on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, the site of Finnish-Swedish glaciology during IGY, 1957.

• Perform chemical analyses of an ice core to be drilled on Vestfonna by an international consortium, that has previously been highly successful in other ice core projects.
• Build an understanding of the impact of anthropogenic and natural environmental change on the snow and ice on Nordaustlandet in close conjunction with other constia in the Svalbard IPY expedition, and hence their impact on marine and terrestrial environments for inclusion in Arctic and global climate models.

We propose to study the past and present change in snow and ice cover using a deep ice core which we will use to analyse changes in chemical composition of the atmosphere over a time period, likely to be 1000 to 2000 years, but perhaps much longer. We will also make radar and ice flow survey of the Vestfonna ice cap to assess changes in ice mass since previous detailed surveys carried out in 1957. We will make a continuous profile of radar and ice flow rates between the coring site and the ice cap margin and use these data together with those from other projects in the IPY-cry consortia as inputs and constraints on 2 ice sheet flow models aimed to reconstruct past ice sheet extent and possible future scenarios. The added value in having a large scientific expedition will be shown in having concurrent air sampling to compare with snow analyses, with detailed observations of sea ice - a critical component of the Svalbard climate regime, and with geological evidence of long term climate change and sensitivity. Results from the cryospheric measurements will be useful in assessing ice-albedo feedbacks to warming in the Arctic, to the fresh-water input to the oceanography and ecology of the Barents Sea, and provide a history of the anthropogenic pollutant history of the region. The radar studies combined with extensive data from earlier studies on the island, and modern satellite imagery will also reveal the sensitivity of the ice cap to warming climatic conditions and changes in the large scale atmospheric circulation patterns that determine snow fall and melting rates.


The Arctic Centre team are:

• John Moore
• Aslak Grinsted (modeler); ag at
• Venkata Gandikota  (geophysicist); gandiko at
• Emilie Beaudon  (chemist); Emilie.Beaudon at

Key international participants are:

• Christian Zdanowicz, Geological Survey of Canada; czdanowi at
• Piotr Głowacki, Polish Academy of Science; glowacki at (Polish Polar Station)
• Carl Egede Bøggild, UNIS The University Centre in Svalbard; carl.egede.boggild at
• Veijo Pohjola, Uppsala University; veijo.pohjola at
• Harro Meijer, University of Groningen; meijer at

More information

The first expedition to the ice cap in spring 2007 blog can be found here

Senior Scientist John Moore
Arctic Centre, University of Lapland