Photo of a core processing line at NICL

Sample Access

Overview

Requests for samples from the National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) are coordinated through the Science Director at the NICL-Science Management Office (NICL-SMO). Samples are available to any qualified investigator, but NSF-funded investigators may be given priority to certain core sections.

Investigators must complete the SAMPLE REQUEST/FACILITY USE FORM and email it to NICL-SMO at least four weeks in advance of their proposal submission deadline if the investigator plans to:

  • request samples from the NICL ice core archive; or
  • collect a new ice core and store it (even just temporarily) at NICL; or
  • use the NICL facility for core processing or for other laboratory work.

Investigators interested in samples from the NICL are also required to familiarize themselves with the NICL Use and Ice Core Sample Allocation Policy. The information below is a short summary of the Policy.


 

Accessing Ice Cores

Two steps must be followed before scientists are granted access to the ice cores at the NICL.

Step 1:
Scientists interested in obtaining ice from NICL must contact the Science Director. NICL is not authorized to release any ice core, nor to cut any archived ice core, without prior approval by the NICL-SMO.

Investigators interested in requesting samples from the NICL ice core archive must complete the SAMPLE REQUEST/FACILITY USE FORM and email it to NICL-SMO at least four weeks in advance of the proposal submission deadline.

Generally there are three types of sample requests: pilot studies, funded proposals, and de-accessed ice. Refer to the 'Sample Requests' section of the NICL Use and Ice Core Sample Allocation Policy for detailed instructions on how to make each request.

If you have questions, contact Mark Twickler at 603-862-1991 or nicl.smo at unh.edu. Before contacting NICL-SMO, scientists should first read and become familiar with the NICL Use and Ice Core Sample Allocation Policy. Non-U.S. scientists and non-National Science Foundation (NSF) funded scientists may be required to have an NSF funded collaborator before they can be given access to certain ice cores.

Step 2:
Once access has been granted by the NICL-SMO, the scientist can call 303-202-4830 or email nicl at usgs.gov to schedule a sample visit at NICL.

A researcher measures an ice core during a core processing line at the National Ice Core Laboratory

A researcher measures an ice core during a core processing line at the National Ice Core Laboratory.
—Credit: NICL


 

Storage of Ice Cores at NICL

Ice cores from glaciers and ice sheets obtained through NSF-funded programs may be accepted for storage at NICL. Investigators must contact the Science Director during the planning stages of a project, prior to the proposal submission, for possible permission to ship their cores to NICL.

Investigators interested in storing a new ice core at NICL must complete the SAMPLE REQUEST/FACILITY USE FORM and email it to NICL-SMO at least four weeks in advance of your proposal submission deadline.

Only ice cores made of meteoric ice are authorized for storage at NICL. No sea ice, permafrost, or sediment cores are permitted in the NICL facility.

Conditions of the Principal Investigator's proprietary rights to the core must be established when an investigator first contacts the Science Director to ask permission to store ice cores at NICL. NICL expects that investigators, either individually or in groups, may want exclusive access to a core obtained by them for a limited, but defined, period of time following acquisition of the core. The conditions of these exclusive rights (including the duration of the period of exclusive access) should be established at the stage of proposal funding, so that the conditions may be considered as part of the peer review process. For cores from NSF-funded programs, the Principal Investigator should establish these conditions, with the concurrence of the Science Director. NICL will accept cores with proprietary rights attached under these circumstances.

Investigators are required to familiarize themselves with the NICL Use and Ice Core Sample Allocation Policy.

A NICL staff member holds a 1-meter long section of an ice core inside the main archive freezer, which is held at a temperature of minus 36 degrees C

A NICL staff member holds a 1-meter long section of an ice core inside the main archive freezer, which is held at a temperature of -36°C. NICL currently stores over 17,000 meters of ice core collected from various locations in Antarctica, Greenland, and North America.
—Credit: NICL


 

Use of NICL

Investigators interested in using the NICL facility for a core processing line or other laboratory work must complete the SAMPLE REQUEST/FACILITY USE FORM and email it to NICL-SMO at least four weeks in advance of your proposal submission deadline.

Investigators funded by agencies other than NSF who wish to use NICL must contact the Science Director prior to proposal submission to obtain permission to use the facility. Use includes but is not limited to storage of ice cores or samples, use of NICL workspace, use of staff time or other resources. The Science Director will work with the investigator and NICL staff to determine the scope of work and provide a cost estimate, if needed. These costs may be borne by the agency funding the work and must be negotiated in advance of access to the facility.

Investigators are required to familiarize themselves with the NICL Use and Ice Core Sample Allocation Policy.

A science technician measures a section of the WAIS Divide ice core as it begins its journey down a core processing line

A science technician measures a section of the WAIS Divide ice core as it begins its journey down a core processing line. Scientists and technicians will cut the ice so it can be sent to labs around the country for analysis.
—Credit: Peter Rejcek, NSF


 

Scheduling A Sample Visit

Scientists planning a sampling visit to NICL must obtain a sample allocation from the NICL-SMO prior to their arrival. NICL cannot release any core nor allow any core to be cut without the appropriate sample allocation from the NICL-SMO. The sample allocation process can be initiated by a phone call/email to the Science Director, Mark Twickler, at 603-862-1991 or nicl.smo at unh.edu. Once access to the core has been granted, the scientist needs to contact the NICL (303-202-4830 or e-mail nicl at usgs.gov) to set up a site visit. When shipping equipment ahead of your arrival at NICL, please use the correct shipping address and let NICL know that your shipment is coming. Maps of the local area can be downloaded here. Non-U.S. scientists and non-NSF funded scientists may be required to have an NSF funded collaborator before they can be given access to certain cores.

Scientists frequently request NICL staff to cut and ship core samples for them. The ability of lab personnel to cut ice for you depends on our workload at the time of the request and on the amount of ice being requested. Although NICL is a no-fee facility, shipping costs must be borne by your home institution. The lab staff tracks each shipment to its final destination and will keep you apprised of your shipment's progress. Upon receipt of your shipment, you must return the ISC box, the temperature logger and any eutectic packs that accompanied your ice.