Press Release

New opportunity to request Vostok accretion ice for international collaborative study

By SpaceRef Editor
February 25, 2004
Filed under , ,

25 February 2004

Dear Colleague:

We would like to bring the following information to your attention:

New opportunity to request Vostok accretion ice for international collaborative

The French-Russian-U.S. collaboration in the collection and study of
the Vostok, Antarctica, ice core has contributed significantly to documenting
Earth’s climate history. The confirmation in 1996 of the existence
of a lake under the drilling site has enhanced the importance of this
collaborative project and has stimulated much scientific discussion and
speculation about the origin, nature, and fate of subglacial lakes and
associated ecosystems.

When drilling at the Vostok site was completed in 1998, the borehole
had reached a depth of 3,623 m, with an estimated 130 m of ice remaining
to the lake surface. The top 3538 m of the core is meteoric glacial ice.
The lower 84 m (3,539-3,623 m) is referred to as accretion ice and has
distinct physical and chemical characteristics relative to the ice from
shallower (meteoric) portions of the core. In December 2001, the bottom
11.74 m of accretion ice was sub-sampled in the field. Half of the core
was left at Vostok Station in a snow cave as an archive, and the other
half was transported from Antarctica to the Laboratoire de Glaciologie
et Géophysique de l’Environnement, Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique, in Grenoble, France, with the understanding that the distribution
of this ice would be decided by a joint meeting of science and agency
representatives from the three nations.

Three nations agree to share ice core

A meeting was held 17-18 April 2002 at the U.S. National Science Foundation
with scientists, directors, and program managers from the U.S., French,
and Russian antarctic programs. The group identified analyses required
to address the key scientific questions about the physical and biological
aspects of the accretion ice layers and the lake ecosystem. A plan developed
at this meeting will maximize the scientific return and ensure an accurate
comparison of results and will foster international research collaboration
among Russian, American, and French scientists. For more information about
Vostok Subglacial Lake research, visit the SCAR Subglacial Antarctic Lake
Exploration web site at For the 2002
meeting report, see

International collaborative research opportunity

At the 17-18 April 2002 meeting it was decided to set aside 2 meters
of the ice core (segments from 3,613 m (~ 97 cm long) and 3,621 m (~ 96
cm long) for international collaborative studies. The purpose of setting
aside samples for this international study was to encourage new scientists
to become involved with the study of Vostok accretion ice and to encourage
international collaborations on the study of the ice samples. Scientists
from all three countries involved in this agreement (i.e., France, Russia,
and United States) who want to request sections of this ice should submit
a collaborative request following the guidelines below.

How to request new accretion ice core samples for collaborative study

To request pieces of these new accretion ice core samples, one person
from each collaborative team should send a request of not more than 5
pages to each of the National Program Contacts (see below). The jointly
prepared request should be a complete and concise statement describing
the specific problem or objective of the study for which samples are needed,
methods and procedures to be used, samples required, source of projected
funding (if any), and names and addresses of collaborating investigators.
Scientists at institutions from all three countries (France, Russia, United
States) must be involved in each request for samples. Requests also should
contain a statement that justifies why this ice is of particular significance
for their work. All requests must be received by 25 May 2004. Only scientists
working at institutions in France, Russia, and the United States may submit

A special Sample Allocation Committee with representatives of each of
the three countries will review the requests and decide which ones should
be authorized to receive samples. Actual allocation of ice samples will
be contingent on confirmation that the investigators have sufficient funding
to perform their work. Scientists should contact their National Program
Contacts for information about how each country will handle funding requests
and for any further information desired regarding the selection process.

In the United States, no special funding source has been established
for study of these samples. U.S. investigators can request NSF U.S. Antarctic
Program funds as described in the solicitation Antarctic Research (NSF
03-551); in March 2004 a new edition will announce the next annual proposal
deadline, 3 June 2004. Applying by that same deadline, investigators can
request accelerated consideration of proposals through the Small Grants
for Exploratory Research mechanism. Other NSF funding sources, including
crosscutting programs, are summarized in Guide to Programs.

National Program Contacts:

France: Dr. Yves Frenot
Deputy Director
Institut Polaire Français, Paul-Emile Victor
Technopole Brest-Iroise
F-29280 Plouzane – France
Tel. +33 2 98 05 65 03
Fax +33 2 98 05 65 10
E-mail :

Russia: Dr. Vladimir Ya. Lipenkov
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute
38, Bering st. St. Petersburg
199397 Russia
Fax: (812) 352 26 88
Tel.: (812) 352 22 46

United States: Julie M. Palais, PhD.
Antarctic Glaciology Program
Office of Polar Programs
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230 USA
Tel.: (703) 292-8033
Fax: (703) 292-9080

Please pass this information to any other researchers who may be interested
in studies of ice.


Dr. Karl Erb, Director
Office of Polar Programs, NSF

Dr. Valery Lukin, Director
Russian Antarctic Expedition

Dr. Gérard Jugie, Director
Institut Polaire Français, Paul-Emile Victor

SpaceRef staff editor.