Jerome Chappellaz - firn air drilling and pumping

Jerome Chappellaz from CNRS will use firn air to help reconstruct the recent evolution of the atmospheric composition.
Jerome Chappellaz from CNRS will use firn air to help reconstruct the recent evolution of the atmospheric composition.

French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

I will conduct ‘firn’ air pumping at different depths, together with David Etheridge from CSIRO. Firn is unconsolidated ice that contains a lot of air spaces, unlike consolidated ice where the air is trapped in bubbles. To collect the gas in the air spaces a core is drilled to the region of interest and a bladder is lowered into the resulting hole and pumped up to seal the hole. A tube inserted through the bladder is connected to a vacuum pump at the surface. Once in position, the pump is turned on to suck the air out of the surrounding firn. The air is stored in cylinders for later laboratory analysis.

The aim of this work is to reconstruct the recent evolution of the atmospheric composition, for trace gases of geochemical interest. It will also help us to determine the time required for gases to transit from the surface of the ice sheet to air bubbles at the firn/ice transition.

In the field I will use a prototype laser spectrometer to continuously analyse the air pumped from the firn, to determine the best time for filling canisters for further analysis in the laboratory. The spectrometer will also provide real-time concentrations of methane and carbon monoxide.

Career highlights

I am a senior scientist (Directeur de Recherche) at CNRS in France. I completed my PhD at Grenoble University in 1990. My main research activity concerns changes in the atmospheric composition deduced from ice core and firn air analysis, for geochemical and dating purposes.

I was the former Deputy Director of the Laboratory of Glaciology and Geophysical Environment (LGGE), and I currently head one if the LGGE research teams, in charge of polar climate studies.

I have co-authored about 100 peer-reviewed articles, among them more than 20 in the journals Nature and Science. I belong to the category of “Highly Cited Researchers” in geosciences (ISI Web of Knowledge). In 2011, I was awarded a prestigious Advanced Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) for conducting innovative research in ice core sciences (ICE & LASERS project). My participation in the Aurora Basin project takes place in the frame of this ERC grant. I recently received the Science Innovation Award and the Shackleton Medal of the European Association of Geochemistry.

The Aurora Basin drilling project will be my fifth expedition to Antarctica and my seventh expedition overall in polar regions.