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>  News Releases >   2008 >   December

Dartmouth to Lead Ice-Core Drilling Oversight Office

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 12/22/08 • Media Contact: Sue Knapp • (603) 646-3661 

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Mary Albert
Mary Albert (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69/Dartmouth College Photographer)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named Mary Albert, visiting professor at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, the director of the new Ice Drilling Program Office. The IDPO is part of NSF’s Office of Polar Programs, and it is responsible for scientific leadership and oversight of ice coring and drilling activities funded by NSF. Dartmouth is collaborating with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of New Hampshire on this effort. The IDPO will be headquartered at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering.

NSF’s Office of Polar Programs coordinates all U.S. Antarctic research activities, and the OPP oversees scientific stations in the Arctic. Albert explains that drilling into the ice to harvest “core” samples is vital to the research efforts at both poles. Core samples, which can come from more than two miles deep inside an ice sheet or glacier, contain data about past climate conditions, levels of pollution, and even levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases over the last 800,000 years, as data within the ice can be hundreds of thousands of years old.

“I hope to foster productive planning and coordination of ice coring science endeavors with the research community and oversee technology development needed to do the science, as voiced by this community,” says Albert, who is also a research engineer with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, part of the Amy Corps of Engineers. “I hope that through these efforts we can assist NSF by providing them with information that will help them in long-term planning for the frontiers of science.”

The Ice Drilling Program Office will help guide the newly established Ice Drilling Design and Operations Group (IceDDOG), led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

According to the NSF, this field of research is constantly changing and adapting to new discoveries and new technology. The IDPO and IceDDOG will work together and with researchers to incorporate the best ideas and techniques in ice coring and drilling.

“Professor Albert has a long history of collaborative involvement in research projects at Thayer,” says Dean of the Thayer School of Engineering Joseph Helble. “This new effort will strengthen our ties with CRREL, and will ultimately provide expanded opportunities for students to contribute to improved understanding of the natural environment of challenging problems such as climate change. We look forward to having Professor Albert and the IDPO based here at Thayer and at Dartmouth.”

Dartmouth is actively involved in a variety of polar sciences, including developing technologies for ice core studies at the Thayer School of Engineering, interdisciplinary environment/ecosystem and anthropological studies within the College of Arts and Sciences, and policy studies of polar change through the Dickey Center and its Institute of Arctic Studies.

“The combination of local expertise and interdisciplinary teamwork that this affords, along with Dartmouth's international reputation for academic excellence, makes Dartmouth a very logical place for NSF to initiate new endeavors,” says Albert.

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