ESR 1 – Geochemical characterisation of single dust particules in ice core

Early stage researcher: Geunwoo Lee (Univ. Bern, CH)

Supervisors: H. Fischer (Univ. of Bern, CH), B. Delmonte (Univ. of Milano Bicocca, IT)

Academic secondment: Univ. of Milano Bicocca (IT); Non-academic secondment: TOFWERK (CH)


Continuous Flow Analysis has become the gold standard for contamination-free analyses of dissolved tracers in ice cores and has been applied to reconstruct the atmospheric aerosol record over up to the last 800,000 years.

The elemental composition of particulate dust has been much more difficult to measure continuously in online techniques. The novel inductively coupled plasma Time of Flight mass spectrometer icpTOF by TOFWERK provides for the first time millisecond resolution records over the full mass range from about 23-255 Da, which allows us to perform continuous single particle analysis on ice cores.

Application of this instrument in ice core research has been pioneered by the University of Bern in recent years. To make even better use of the unique capability of this instrument in ice core research, this DEEPICE PhD project at the University of Bern in collaboration with TOFWERK will improve the sensitivity and resolution of icpTOF analysis using an improved sample introduction system, develop automated evaluation routines for single dust particle detection and explore the full mass range of elements to be quantified using the icpTOF in ice core research.

The improved system will be used to measure Antarctic dust composition for selected intervals over the last 800,000 years and compared to other (lower resolution) dust analytical methods that have been established in ice core research in the past.

These records will be most important for the reconstruction of biogeochemical changes in dust deposition in the Southern Ocean region, dust source fingerprinting, or its effect on the radiative balance.

Key words: ice cores, atmosphere, particulate aerosol, radiative effect, time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Scientific results