Scientists Preparing To Drill For Million-Year-Old Antarctic Ice

Time and again, the ice in Antarctica has proven itself to be very reliable when it comes to giving us information about what’s currently going on in our planet and what went on in the past. After all, it’s the same ice that revealed to scientists what the water was like millions of years ago, the same ice that has shown us how much damage global warming has bestowed on our planet and the same ice that revealed how some icebergs are faring much better than others in the warming weather.

And now, scientists are preparing to dig into it once again in an attempt to unearth million-year-old crucial information that would further help us make better climate predictions.

Million-Year-Old Ice

“What we’re embarking on over the next few years is to solve one of the last great problems in climate science,” Tas van Ommen, glaciologist, said. The Australian Antarctic Division, team the glaciologist is with, recently revealed a drill last Monday that was made to reach three kilometers bellow the ice in the frozen continent. Believed to be around 1.5 million years old, the ice is also the target subject of a number of international research projects that are well-funded.

“We’ll see in the ice, tiny bubbles that are trapped between snowflakes in the ice as it gets buried. These tiny bubbles are time capsules of past atmosphere,” van Ommen said. “We want to get that ice, analyse those time capsules and understand what [carbon dioxide] did in that period around one million years ago when the climate was changing,” he added.

According to him, the ice will be drilled since it contains carbon dioxide that is one of the factors that influences the rate at which ice ages have worked long ago. From this, the researchers are hoping to see what kind of long-term effect CO2 in our atmosphere will provide in the future.

With that in mind however, the drilling won’t be a quick process, estimated to begin in 2021 and take up to four years in total. A mobile base will then be made near it to aid the researchers.

antarctica-3883212_960_720 A station in the Antarctica. Photos by Pixabay (CC0)