Photo of a core processing line at NSF-ICF

Sample Access

Overview

Requests for samples from the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility (NSF-ICF) are coordinated through the Science Director at the Science Management Office (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 the SMO at least four weeks in advance of their proposal submission deadline if the investigator plans to:

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

Investigators interested in samples from the NSF-ICF are also required to familiarize themselves with the NSF-ICF 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 NSF-ICF.

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

Investigators interested in requesting samples from the NSF-ICF ice core archive must complete the SAMPLE REQUEST/FACILITY USE FORM and email it to the 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 NSF-ICF 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 the SMO, scientists should first read and become familiar with the NSF-ICF 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 SMO, the scientist can call 303-202-4830 or email nicl at usgs.gov to schedule a sample visit at NSF-ICF.

A researcher measures an ice core during a core processing line at the NSF Ice Core Facility

A researcher measures an ice core during a core processing line at the NSF Ice Core Facility.
—Credit: NSF-ICF/NICL


 

Storage of Ice Cores

Ice cores from glaciers and ice sheets obtained through NSF-funded programs may be accepted for storage at NSF-ICF. 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 NSF-ICF.

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

Only ice cores made of meteoric ice are authorized for storage at NSF-ICF. No sea ice, permafrost, or sediment cores are permitted in the NSF-ICF 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 NSF-ICF. NSF-ICF 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. NSF-ICF will accept cores with proprietary rights attached under these circumstances.

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

A NSF-ICF 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 NSF-ICF 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. NSF-ICF currently stores over 17,000 meters of ice core collected from various locations in Antarctica, Greenland, and North America.
—Credit: NSF-ICF/NICL


 

Use of NSF-ICF

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

Investigators funded by agencies other than NSF who wish to use NSF-ICF 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 NSF-ICF workspace, use of staff time or other resources. The Science Director will work with the investigator and NSF-ICF 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 NSF-ICF 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 NSF-ICF must obtain a sample allocation from the SMO prior to their arrival. NSF-ICF cannot release any core nor allow any core to be cut without the appropriate sample allocation from the 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 NSF-ICF (303-202-4830 or e-mail nicl at usgs.gov) to set up a site visit. When shipping equipment ahead of your arrival at NSF-ICF, please use the correct shipping address and let NSF-ICF 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 NSF-ICF 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 NSF-ICF 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.