Wellner Selected as Co-Chief Scientist of Ocean Drilling Project in Antarctica

Project to Study Ice Volume History

Julia WellnerJulia Wellner, an assistant professor in sedimentology in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has been selected a co-chief scientist of the International Ocean Discovery Program drilling expedition 379. The expedition, scheduled for January-March 2019, will study the Antarctic ice volume history.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is largely marine-based, highly sensitive to climatic and oceanographic changes, and has had a dynamic history over the last several million years. If completely melted, it could result in a global sea-level rise of 3.3-4.3 meters.

International Ocean Discovery ProgramExpedition 379 will obtain records from the continental shelf and rise of the Amundsen Sea to document WAIS dynamics in an area unaffected by other ice sheets and that also currently is experiencing the largest ice mass loss in Antarctica. The primary objectives include:

  • Reconstructing the Paleogene to Holocene glacial history of West Antarctica,
  • Correlating the Amundsen Sea WAIS-proximal records with global records of ice volume changes and air/seawater temperature proxy records,
  • Constraining the relationship between incursions of warm water masses onto the continental shelf and the stability of marine-based ice sheet margins, and
  • Reconstructing major WAIS advances onto the middle and outer shelf, including the first ice sheet expansion onto the continental shelf of the Amundsen Sea Embayment and its possible control by the uplift of Marie Byrd Land.

The expedition will be Wellner's 11th field season in Antarctica and her first participation in IODP drilling. The science party of the drilling leg will include about 30 people from IODP member countries, including the U.S., Japan, E.U. members, Korea, China, New Zealand, Australia, India, and Brazil.