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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 2006-07: VUWAE 51

2. Latitudinal Gradient Project Objective

2. Latitudinal Gradient Project Objective

Our project is expected to contribute an important data set to the Latitudinal Gradient Project, as it provides a history of temperature, humidity, sea ice cover, precipitation source, atmospheric circulation, and ocean productivity along the Victoria Coast for the last 1000 to 10,000 years depending on the site. This will help to determine whether the current ecological system found has evolved under prevailing climate, or how much time the ecological system had to adjust to potential climate change in the recent past. Furthermore, the timing and velocity of the Ross Ice Shelf retreat some 9 to 5ka years ago is still discussed controversially (Steig et al., 1998; Hall & Denton, 2000; Steig et al., 2000). Coastal ice core records are very sensitive to the change from an ice shelf environment to seasonally open water, which manifests itself in a shift in the chemical signature of snow and aerosol precipitation (Legrand & Mayewski, 1997). By dating the occurrence of the characteristic chemistry shift in the proposed ice cores locations (Fig.8), average retreat velocity can be calculated and its dependency on air temperature tested. This will also add to our knowledge on the current Ross Ice Shelf stability.