Course Information on ICAT - Ice Core Analysis Techniques – University of Copenhagen

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ICAT-Ice Core Analysis Techniques

The Ice Core Analysis Techniques (ICAT) PhD School offers participants a detailed introduction to the variety of climate and geophysical information that can be obtained from ice cores. The school aims to bring together leading ice core researchers and emerging young scientists; covering such diverse topics as ice core analysis, experimental techniques, integration of ice core data into models, statistics, mapping and non-destructive analysis techniques. We aim to provide a new forum for young ice core scientists to meet, learn and build a common experience for future collaborations.

The PhD school is available for early career researchers such as PhD’s and postdocs. Application deadline is the 30th of July. Travel support will be available based on excellence of applications.

The PhD school will focus on the many aspects of climate reconstructions available from ice cores. 

The PhD school will cover dating methods applied to ice cores, such as annual layer counting, volcanic and other dating markers, greenhouse gases, cross-core and cross-archive dating, as well as the uncertainties associated with the different dating methods.

We will include discussions regarding transport and deposition processes, such as different wind patterns of the past, dry and wet deposition, re-deposition and sastrugi influence, firnification and movement within the ice, diffusion and influence of the ice matrix as well as crystal boundary effects.

We will discuss the multiple proxies determined in ice cores, measurement methods, accuracy and precision. State-of-the-art measurement techniques such as ICP-MS, CFA, IC, IRMS, Picarros as well as sampling and cleaning methods. Also nondestructive methods such as ECM, DEP and borehole logging will be explained as well as laser ablation techniques. The methods will be compared in terms of measurement accuracy, but also in term of depth resolution and of cause the number of different proxies will be discussed, such as reconstruction of source areas, source changes, temperature, greenhouse gases, volcanic eruptions, biosphere, etc.

We will discuss the different ways to retrieve ice cores, differences and benefits of different ice core sites, drilling techniques, replicate drilling, shallow drilling, rapid access and the potential for borehole logging techniques.

Finally we will introduce how one can work with the ice core data. How to deal with missing data, data with variable resolution, we will discuss what can actually be learned from correlations, and the importance of including uncertainties and variability in reconstructions.

The applicants will be expected to give a short presentation of their own research topics, and thus we will update each other on the most recent research within ice cores. Further the course will include laboratory visits at the Centre for Ice and Climate and excursions within the Copenhagen area.

Confirmed speakers:

Joe McConnell, Ed Brook, Thomas Blunier, Helle Astrid Kjær, Paul Vallelonga, Anders Svensson, Dorthe Dahl-jensen, Jørgen-Peder Steffensen, Mai Winstrup, Sune Olander Rasmussen, Bo Vinther

Course content

The Ice Core Analysis Techniques (ICAT) PhD School is aiming to enhance the knowledge on the versatile information that can be obtained from ice cores. The school aims to bring together ice core analysts and experimentalists with scientific end users, such as climate modelers using ice core data. We aim to enhance the knowledge on the multiple analytical methods used to reconstruct past climate by means of ice cores.

The Phd school will focus on the multiple aspects of climate reconstructions from ice cores as well as give the students hands on experience with ice core measurements.  Topics include (depending on instructor availability):

-Ice core drilling techniques

-Ice core logging

-ICP-MS, IC, IRMS, Picarros, with more ice core measurement techniques

-Continuous flow analysis vs discrete measurements

-non-desctructive ice core methods, such as ECM , DEP,  laser ablation, etc.

- firnification

-re-deposition and sastrugi influence

-Transport and deposition processes


-Reconstruction of paleo climate from ice cores

-Comparisons to other paleo archives

- etc.


The PhD school is available for early career researchers such as PhD’s and postdocs. Application deadline is the 30th of July. Travel support from the US is available based on excellence of applications.

Some places are available for junior scientists. The course can accomodate 24 students. Prior detailed knowledge/background in ice cores is not a prerequisite and we strongly support applicants from a modelling background working with ice cores to also apply.


The ICAT PhD school is funded by the University of Copenhagen (UCPH-Science).

"The Journal "Frontiers in Earth Science" supports the ICAT PhD School and a special issue on “Ice Core Analysis Techniques” will open in 2017. ICAT attendees are strongly recommended to submit to this special issue and the ICAT school offers mentoring support for manuscript preparation and development. Further information will be provided to successful applicants. "