Department of Earth Science
Masterprosjekt - Klima

Evaluating the deglacial history of the Wandel Dal valley, northern Greenland

This Master's project is available from the intake of autumn 2023. Please contact the listed supervisor for more information.

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Project description

Over recent decades Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) melt has been a major contributor to global sea level rise, and has raised concerns about the ice sheet’s future stability. Evaluating the sensitivity of the GrIS to climate warming is therefore a pressing research topic with broad implications for regional climate, ocean circulation, as well as global sea level. Paleoclimate records have the ability to help evaluate the sensitivity of the GrIS to different climate conditions. In particular, deglaciation following the last glacial maximum provides an important interval to document ice marginal changes since it was a significant period of global warming and was associated with rapid retreat of the GrIS. Evaluating the timing and style of deglaciation of the GrIS allows for an improved understanding of ice retreat patterns, which can be correlated with other paleoclimate data to study the relationship between ice melt, ice sheet dynamics, and climate conditions.
The goal of this projects is to use remotely sensed data to evaluate the deglacial history of Wandel Dal, a valley draining the northern sector of the GrIS. There is limited information on the surficial geology and deglacial chronology of northern Greenland and no previous Quaternary mapping of Wandel Dal has been conducted. Data from a region to its east do shows evidence for different styles of deglaciation within and between fjords of north Greenland, as interpreted from surficial geologic mapping, lake sediment records, and cosmogenic exposure ages, and is an important basis for comparison (Larsen et al., 2020). The deglacial history of Wandel Dal also has important implications for evaluating the earliest human settlements in northern Greenland. The valley contains archaeological evidence for human occupation as early as c. 4500 cal yr BP, which in part was controlled by the opening of ice free corridors leading to Wandel Dal during deglaciation. Mapping developed as part of this project will provide context for this phase of the prehistoric colonization of northern Greenland. Overall this project will result in the creation of a surficial geologic map for Wandel Dal and the surrounding area based on analysis of aerial imagery, satellite imagery, and other remotely sensed data.

Research Questions
What are the spatial distribution of subglacial, proglacial, and ice-marginal landforms and how can they be used to infer former ice positions? How does the style of glaciation/deglaciation of Wandel Dal compare to other regions at the margins of the GrIS?

Proposed course plan during the master's degree (60 ECTS):
GEOV217 / Geofarer (høst, 10 stp.)
GEOV222 / Paleoklimatologi (høst, 10 stp.)
GEOV336 / Lab- og metodekurs i kvartærgeologi (høst, 10 stp.)
GEOV225 / Feltkurs i kvartærgeologi og paleoklima (vår, 10 stp.)
GEOV302 / Dataanalyse i geovitenskap (vår, 10 stp.)

The thesis needs to be written in English due to a supervisor from the US.

Field, lab and analysis
Around three months with analyses of satelitte images.