ICAT PhD school – a great success!

The ICAT PhD school was held from Monday 31/10 to Saturday 5/11/16. The Ice Core Analysis and Techniques (ICAT) PhD school supported by ice2ice and hosted over 30 students from 13 countries at CIC in Copenhagen. Through a mixture of hands on exercises in the three ice core laboratories, a mixture of lectures all related to ice cores, and several social events to enhance colaborations between students, the students learned all there is to know about ice cores. With student responses like “It was an awesome experience”, “congratulations on a great course-I am very thankful” and “This was a phenomenal PhD course” we hope to secure enough funding to be able to run it again next year.

The ICAT PhD's in the limestone quarry at Faxe
The ICAT PhD’s in the limestone quarry at Faxe

The ICAT PhD school was run for the first time this last week (31/10-5/11). The course was intended to increase the knowledge on ice core analysis techniques (ICAT) and people from more than 13 countries participated. The students had a diverse background; most were already familiar with ice cores, working on a particular proxy from ice cores, but also a few ice sheet modellers, climate modellers and people working with other paleo-archives attended, among these were 4 ice2ice participants.

Lots of discussion between the students in the breaks.
Lots of discussion and collaboration between the students in the breaks.

All days started with 5 minute presentations by students. It was great to see the diversity of the students and this way the newest research within ice core science was well represented. A number of Centre for Ice and Climate’s own scientists continued with lectures covering ice core history, water isotopes, Continuous flow analysis techniques, gas extraction and analysis, ice core drilling, dating of ice cores, borehole measurements, multi core variability, statistics and trends, water isotope modelling, ice sheet flow and comparison to other paleo-archives. Furthermore, the invited speakers Professor Joe McConnell, from the Desert Research Institute, Nevada talked about his research in Anthropocene contaminants as observed in ice cores measured by continuous flow analysis and professor Edward Brook, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University gave lectures about the extraction of greenhouse gases and the changes of them as observed in ice cores.

Sune Rasmussen stressing correct (danish) pronunciation of important climate events like Allerød and Bølling
Sune Rasmussen stressing correct (danish) pronunciation of important climate events like Allerød and Bølling.

Lead investigator for ice2ice at DMI  Jens Hesselbjerg  taught the students about climate modelling and how to compare ice cores to models and Helle Sørensen from the math department at the University of Copenhagen  introduced basic statistics of time series.

Exercises and laboratory visits were a great opportunity to get hands on experience with real data
Exercises and laboratory visits were a great opportunity to get hands on experience with real data

Two of the days the students got hands-on experience by working in the laboratories; ice2ice PhD Niccolo Maffezoli showed the IC laboratory, where discrete ice samples are analyzed for ions. Professor Thomas Blunier ran an exercise in the gas laboratory where the students breath was analysed similar to ice core samples on a methane Picarro analyser, in the water isotope laboratory postdoc Vasileios Gkinis analysed students own water samples to reproduce the meteoric water line and in the CFA laboratory Marius Simonsen and Helle Kjær had the students prepare and run standards for ammonium. Further the student got hands on experience in annual layer counting led by specialist Mai Winstrup and simple Herron-Langway modelling led by Paul Vallelonga.

Students busy in the Faxe quarry looking for 64 million year old fossils of the corals that used to be.

To increase the interaction amongst students an excursion to the UNESCO site of Stevns Klint took place in the middle of the week. Stevns Klint is the best place in the world to see the fish clay layer from the extinction 65 million years ago. Also the excursion brought us to Geomuseum Faxe, and Faxe limestone quarry where students retrieved their own 63 million years old fossils. The excursion ended as the best excursions do with beer at a brewery.

The week ended with an official dinner and a few talks.

The course was organised by ice2ice postdoc Helle Astrid Kjær and Assoc. Professor Paul Vallelonga. This year we unfortunately did not have room for all that applied, so we hope to repeat the course next year.