Obtaining Ice Core Samples from NICL

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
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: NICL

The National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) provides the archival repository for ice cores collected by the U.S. scientific community. The Facility’s objectives are (1) insure maximum availability of samples to qualified investigators, (2) encourage analysis over a wide range of research disciplines without unnecessary duplication, and (3) encourage prompt publication of results. Below are some of the highlights of the Ice Core Distribution Policy set by the Ice Core Working Group (ICWG). The complete policy can be read at: http://nicl-smo.unh.edu/policy.html

Since the ICWG reviews and revises the policy often, please read the policy before requesting samples from NICL.

Requests for samples from NICL are coordinated through the NICL-SMO and reviewed by the Sample Allocation Committee, appointed by the ICWG, with final approval from the NSF. Samples are available to any qualified investigator, but NSF funded investigators may be given priority access to core sections. All requests for samples from NICL must be sent to the Scientific Coordinator. The request should consist of a complete but concise statement describing the study for which samples are needed; methods and procedures to be used; the specific problem or objective of the study; and names and addresses of collaborating investigators. All requests will be reviewed by the Committee. Generally there are three types of requests: pilot studies, proposals requiring ice, and de-accessed ice.

Pilot Studies

The Working Group recognizes the valuable information archived in ice cores. To further the scientific knowledge available from the ice cores at the Facility, requests for limited samples are available to qualified investigators.

Proposals requiring ice from NICL or use of the NICL facility

All investigators must contact the Scientific Coordinator prior to submission of proposals if samples from NICL are being requested. This information is kept confidential but this process will help assure availability of samples after the review process. Once funded, the investigator will contact the Scientific Coordinator for final approval from the Committee and NSF.

De-Accessed Ice

The NICL Facility is currently near full capacity and the Working Group has selected a group of ice cores that have been placed on a de-accession list. These ice cores are generally older cores and have received minimal scientific interest in the last 10+ years. These cores are available to any qualified investigator for testing analytical procedures, method development, outreach activities and other scientific studies requiring large quantities of ice.

Some of the additional information/requirements

  • The Facility may charge investigators to recover labor, freight or mailing expenses involved in filling requests. The Curator will furnish a charge estimate, if required, before processing the request.
  • Data derived from measurement and analysis of all samples from the Facility must be archived at an appropriate Data Center, as described in the NSF-OPP data policy.
  • If any work is done on samples that is, in addition to, or different than, that stated on the original request, the Scientific Coordinator must first be notified.
  • Samples must not be transferred to other investigators without notification.
  • Any unused samples or portions of cores must be returned to the Facility for re-archiving.
  • Investigators who simply wish to briefly examine specific cores (without sampling or conducting analyses) may apply informally to the Scientific Coordinator. A decision will be made quickly to facilitate this activity.

Responsibilities of investigators who receive ice from NICL

  1. Prompt publication of significant results, with acknowledgment of the National Science Foundation as the source of materials.
  2. Submission of information to the Scientific Coordinator pertaining to samples obtained from the Facility. Also, be sure to include this information in your annual NSF report.
  3. Notification to the Scientific Coordinator of any significant change in the research plan described in the original request.
  4. Data derived from material from the Facility must be archived at an established data center in accordance to the NSF-OPP data policy.

Contact Information

Scientific Coordinator
Mark Twickler

NICL Curator
Geoff Hargreaves