Ancient Ice: Key to Earth?s Climate Warming

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During the second open conference of the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences in Hobart, Australia, the search for ancient ice became a hot topic with more than 200 drilling experts from 22 countries. This ice could reportedly aid researchers in their quest to understand the climate warming happening right now on our planet.

Researchers need to find an ice core that was formed during the ice ages in order to see the changes in the atmosphere over time. These cores are generally four to five inches in diameter and extend up to almost two miles at a time. ?At this time, the oldest cores obtained are around 800,000 years old.

“We really want ice that is 1.5 million years old,” Ed Brook, a professor of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, stated,. “One million won’t be quite good enough for our goal.”

Longer intervals in between ice ages indicate the warming of the planet since the cycles a million years ago occurred around every 400,000 years. But since then, they have shortened to around every 100,000 years.

The researchers are hoping to investigate the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the older ice and the changes over time to track the Earth?s temperature, with more carbon dioxide indicating a warmer climate and less a cooler one.

The world?s oldest ice can be found in Antarctica, and research has been conducted on the optimum places to drill using radar surveys.

In February at the Mauna Loa research station in Hawaii, the level of gas was measured at 404 parts per million, with an increase of 3.76 from the previous year, according to the U.S. Earth System Research Laboratory.

?We have never seen anything above 300 parts per million in the last 800,000 years,? Brook said. ?We have never seen any levels remotely like the modern atmosphere.?

Although the scientists have not planned a schedule to find the ice, how the search may be executed and the new types of drills being developed in the USA and France have been considered in Tasmania. On the occasion that the work will start, completing it could take four to five years, in part because the work can only be done during the South Pole summer between December and February. Core pieces can measure about 10 ?to 13 feet long when they are brought out and hauling them up and sending the drill back down can take time as there is a lot of ice to get through.

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