Christoph Spötl: Principal Investigator, Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck
Dietmar Wagenbach: Co- Principal Investigator, Institut für Umweltphysik, University of Heidelberg
Wolfgang Schöner: Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Vienna
Friedrich Obleitner: Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics, Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck
Rudolf Pavuza: Division of Karst and Cave Science at the Museum of Natural History in Vienna
Michael Behm: Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics, Vienna University of Technology
Walter Kutschera: AMS facility VERA at Vienna University
Sepp Kipfstuhl: Glaciological Department of AWI-Bremerhaven
Hans Stötter: Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck, alpS Innsbruck
Sigmar Bortenschlager: Botany, Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck
Barbara May: Institut für Umweltphysik, Heidelberg University
|This study is initiated and led by Christoph Spötl (Univ. of Innsbruck) and Dietmar Wagenbach (Univ. of Heidelberg) and it is supported by the Commission on Quaternary Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The project calls for a multi-disciplinary research initiative to study Austria's famous ice caves.
The Eastern Alps host a great number of spectacular underground glaciers, which are among the largest of their kind on Earth and some of which are top tourist attractions. The fate of these ice caves in a warming world is unknown, but documentary evidence shows a large reduction in ice since the end of the "Little Ice Age" already.
View from the entrance of the "Eisriesenwelt"
|Recognizing the urgency of this matter we propose a multi-disciplinary,
2-year pilot study in order to
(a) gain a better physical understanding of underground ice dynamics
(b) to develop constraints on the fate of alpine ice caves, and
(c) to assess the unexplored potential of this ice as a paleoclimate archive in the Alps (before it disappears).
|We focus thereby on so-called dynamically ventilated ice caves (which represent the largest ice caves in the Eastern Alps). Given the tight financial constraints of this Academy program we suggest an ambitious, cost-efficient pilot project, which we consider as a first step toward a fullscale research project. Supported by show cave owners and local speleologists we attempt studying the well-known show-cave, Eisriesenwelt, and, as a comparison, the undisturbed natural ice cave, Grubsteineishöhle. This dual approach guarantees a maximum amount of insights into the icedynamics of two dynamically ventilated caves, belonging to similar climate regime and thus allowing to assess the impact of anthropogenic measures on the ice mass balance in this kind of caves.