NICL Science Management Office

Inside the NICL freezer
View inside NICL's main archive freezer, which is held at a temperature of -36°C. Each silver tube on these shelves contains a 1-meter long section of an ice core. Credit: Peter Rejcek/National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) And the United States Geological Survey (USGS) jointly manage and operate the National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) in Denver, Colorado. This facility has proven to be vitally important for researchers from the ice core community. NICL provides a state of the art ice core processing area for investigators to conduct research funded by NSF and the USGS. NICL also maintains the integrity of ice core archives by providing a safe and controlled environment to preserve ice cores for future researchers. The Scientific Management Office coordinates the Scientific Management of NICL and is located at the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space at the University of New Hampshire.

The Scientific Management Office for NICL (NICL-SMO) serves as a direct point of contact for principal investigators interested in access to ice cores. It also facilitates the Ice Core Working Group (ICWG) which represents ice core researchers and those in related disciplines whose research uses ice core data. Established in 1985, the ICWG primary role is to provide guidance to NSF. The ICWG investigates a wide range of topics related to ice core research including NICL oversight, sample access and distribution, inventory, policy issues and the development of a plan for future activities. Through yearly meetings and reports, the ICWG provide leadership and direction to the ice core community. Members of the ICWG are nominated by the scientific community and serve on a rotating basis. A Sample Allocation Committee drawn from members of ICWG provide timely recommendations to NSF and USGS on sample allocation and core access for qualified investigators.

At NICL, the USGS has the responsibility of maintaining the freezer operations and the day to day operation of the facility. This includes: maintaining current service contracts; assuring that activities and projects from an Annual Program Plan are carried out; assuring the ability to meet scheduling demands, planning, budgeting and contracting for the operation of NICL; providing and setting up laboratory and processing space for individual and group sampling teams; assisting investigators in scheduling, sampling, shipping and record keeping; system monitoring and emergency response; and providing outreach activities.

Ice core research and the societally relevant results produced from this research have created a large public interest. The NICL-SMO serves as a primary point of contact for such public inquiries and a conduit for information for researchers, the scientific community, and the public.