Canadian Ice Core Lab (CICL)

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
What the facility does

Ice core research laboratory and archive specializing in the Canadian Arctic region

Areas of expertise

As Canada’s only dedicated ice core laboratory and archive, the Canadian Ice Core Lab (CICL) is a leader in shallow and intermediate depth ice core recovery, ice core imaging and processing, and liquid chemistry ice core analysis. CICL personnel have the unique combination of alpine and polar field experience, as well as scientific expertise in glaciology, chemistry, and climate systems that is required to effectively recover ice cores from some of the harshest places on Earth. Our ice core collection covers a large region of the Eastern Canadian high Arctic, and over the next few years will grow to include ice cores from the Western Canadian high Arctic, as well as alpine regions of the Yukon and Canadian Rockies. A digital archive is currently being built to accompany our physical ice core collection. Imaging ice cores allows us to ask new scientific questions and re-examine markers in ice without the presence of the original ice core sample. Our extensive clean ice core cutting and processing capabilities allow for high precision and custom requirements in sample preparation. Isotope, major ion, and particle size analysis provide insight into past climates and events, while complementing analyses performed through scientific collaborations. 

Research services
  • Shallow and intermediate depth ice core drilling
  • Ice core storage (-36oC)
  • Ice core processing and imaging (-25oC)
  • Ion chromatography (IC) for major ion analysis
  • Cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS) for oxygen isotope analysis
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Coulter counter for particle-size analysis
Sectors of application
  • Environmental technologies and related services



Eclipse ice core drill, Icefield Instruments Inc.

For collecting ice cores 100-500m in depth

Kovacs Mark II ice core drill, Kovacs Enterprise

For collecting shallow ice cores 30m in depth

Floorless Weatherhaven series 4A drill shelter, Weatherhaven

Serves as drilling shelter in the field

Ion Chromatograph, Dionex ICS-5000+, ThermoFisher Scientific

Measures concentrations of anions (CH3SO3-, Cl-, Br-, SO42-, NO3-, PO43-) and cations (Na+, NH4+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+)

Cavity Ringdown Spectrometer (CRDS), Picarro L2140-i Analyzer, Picarro, Inc.

Measures δ18O, δ17O and δD values in ice core samples

Fluorescence Spectrometer, Horiba Scientific Aqualog, Horiba Scientific

Identifies organic molecules in meltwater derived from ice cores

Particle Size Analyzer, Beckman Coulter Multisizer 4e Coulter Counter, Beckman Coulter

Measures particle number (%) and diameter

Dark-Field Illumination Stratigraphy, Intermediate Layer Core Scanner (ILCS), Schäfter+Kirchhoff

Stratigraphy line scanner that visualizes the laminar structure of ice cores

Directed Bright-Field Illumination Scanner, Large Area Scan Macroscope (LASM), Schäfter+Kirchhoff

Investigates the microstructure of ice cores

Vertical (Laguna Tools) and Horizontal (Icefield Instruments Inc.) Bandsaws

For cutting and processing ice at -25oC

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
  • Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP)



Mount Logan Ice Expedition

What lies beneath: Innovative project set to cement Canada’s leadership in Arctic research

Girls on Ice a go! Funding supports young scientists setting off on adventure of a lifetime