Scientists Seek Oldest Ice on Earth to Understand Climate Change

Vienna, A team of European scientists are going

on an expedition to find the oldest ice on Earth, to better understand

climate change.

They will head to Antarctica hoping to extract a 1.5 million-

year-old ice core, it was announced at the European Geosciences

Union (EGU) conference in Vienna today.

Scientists hope that the ice core will unlock the story of Earth’s

shifting climate, as the composition of Earth’s atmosphere is preserved

in bubbles in the ice.

The team will be working in one of the most hostile environments

on the planet, where the average temperature is -50C and can fall as

low as -80C in the winter.

Professor Olaf Eisen, a glaciologist at the Alfred Wegener

Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany, is the mission coordinator.

“We are interested in determining the composition of the atmosphere

and the time between 900,000 and one point two million years ago,” he

explains.

“The oldest ice core we have so far is 800,000 years old, that doesn’t

go back far enough. So within the project Oldest Ice � which is an

international project within the international partnership of ice core

sciences � the goal is to find at least one ice core going back to 1.5

million years ago.”

The researchers will drill for ice near Antarctica’s Concordia

Research Station, a French-Italian collaboration which sits 3,300

metres above sea level, near the South Pole. The nearest human

beings are stationed about 600 kilometres away, making Concordia

more remote than the International Space Station.

The ice cores will be extracted from the Earth’s bedrock,

approximately 2.7 kilometres below the surface.

“We have to look for a place which is thick enough to have old ice, but

not too thick so that you have melting at the base,” explains Prof Eisen.

The project involves scientists from ten countries and 14

institutions, and the ice will be analysed by different teams of

researchers across Europe.

Prof Eisen explained: “You really see that in Antarctica, no

country alone is able to really go ahead with such a big project, you

really need international collaborations,” the Euronews reported.

Source: Oman News Agency