The geographical location of Svalbard makes it particularly relevant for studying the impact of human activities on the European Arctic environment in terms of pollutants related to manufacturing since the industrial revolution. However, attempting to extract usable environmental information from Svalbard ice caps can be quite challenging because of the complicating effect of melt that tends to obscure portions of the environmental signals contained in ice cores.

During the International Polar Year (IPY – understanding the processes and feedback of the warming), together with Nordic glaciologists (IPY-KINNVIKA project), Emilie Beaudon targeted Vestfonna (80 °N, Nordaustlandet, Svalbard) and Holtedahlfonna (western Spitsbergen, Svalbard), which until then have remained amongst the least documented High Arctic ice caps. Her research has induced the development of chemistry-based indicators and statistical tools to decipher climatic signals disrupted by melting.

Some of the main conclusions brought by the latter work are that:

Holtedahlfonna (western Spitsbergen) perceives and records changes in the moisture, warmth and biologic productivity of the Greenland Sea since the 18th century at least. The end of the Little Ice Age about 1850 and the transition to year round ice free ocean (1880–1920) conditions is particularly visible in the ice core chemical records. This indicates that a longer core from Holtedahlfonna could help to refine the reconstruction of Greenland Sea ice edges as far back as the 17th century.

Analyses of the ice cores from Vestfonna (80°N, Nordaustlandet) show the imprint of increasing warming in their stratigraphy. For this major Arctic ice cap, the cores provide among the first ground based glaciological data that can be interpreted in the light of modern remote sensing tools (satellites measurement). The combination is essential to categorically identify a so-called “frost flower” chemical signature for the first time in Arctic terrestrial winter snow. Since open leads in sea ice form more frequently in winter around Svalbard, it is important to understand the role played by frost flowers (formed on young sea ice) which are likely the source of reactive gases able to modify tropospheric ozone chemistry and also the deposit of toxic mercury in the Arctic.

Overall this doctoral thesis emphasizes the crucial role of surrounding sea ice cover on Svalbard climate and defines its local impact on snow and ice chemistry of formerly less documented ice caps.

The study includes three published articles, one article in review and a synthesis.

Information on the public examination of the thesis:
Master of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Emilie Beaudon’s doctoral dissertation, Glaciochemical evidence of spatial and temporal environmental variability across Svalbard, is to be publicly defended under permission of the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu. The Public defense will be held at the Polarium hall in Arktikum, Rovaniemi on Friday, September 14, 2012 at 12 (noon). The opponent will be Adjunct professor Christian Zdanowicz from the Geological Survey of Canada (Ottawa, Canada). The custodian will be Professor John Moore, University of Lapland, Arctic Centre. All are welcome!

Information on the doctoral candidate:
Master of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Emilie Beaudon (born 1981 in Bourges, France) lives in Rovaniemi and has studied Natural sciences at Edouard Vaillant High School (Vierzon, France) and she has Master of Science degree from the University of Joseph Fourier (Grenoble, France) in 2004.

She overwintered as a glaciologist in charge of the atmospheric chemistry program at the Dumont D’Urville station in Adélie Land (Antarctica) during 14 months (October 2004 to December 2005). Since April 2007 she has been working as an ice core chemist within the Ice and Climate team in Global Change Group, Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland. Beaudon has also held a one year position as a research student of the Arctic doctoral program Arktis and taken part to Arktis activities since 2008.

Information on the opponent:
Adjunct professor Christian Zdanowicz at the Department of Geography of the University of the University of Ottawa, director of the core-drilling program, has worked on Canadian ice core chemistry for 20 years, publishing many high level papers on the topic. He has been a member of a very internationally well-known and respected group of glaciologists that have done most of the ice core and mass balance research in the Canadian Arctic. Professor Christian Zdanowicz’s main research interests are the study of the late Quaternary climatic and atmospheric variability in alpine and Arctic regions of Canada using glacier ice cores; and investigating the long-range transport and accumulation of airborne pollutants in the Canadian north using various types of natural archives (ice cores, lake sediments, etc.).

Additional information:
Researcher Emilie Beaudon, Arctic Centre, tel. +358 40 484 4288, email. emilie.beaudon(at)

Information on the Publication:
Emilie Beaudon. Glaciochemical evidence of spatial and temporal environmental variability across Svalbard. Arctic Centre Reports 58. Lapland University Press: Rovaniemi 2012. ISBN 978-952-484-562-5. ISSN 1235-0583.

You can place an order at:
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