Researchers had been analyzing ancient ice driller from extreme depths of Antarctica and Greenland to see into the Earth’s past and to make a prediction on our planet’s climate dynamics.
The National Ice Core Laboratory is situated in Lakewood, Colorado. The laboratory was set up by the National Science Foundation, and the deposit contains around 56,000 feet of ice.
The Ancient Ice Warehouse
The pieces are stored at a temperature of – 33 degrees Fahrenheit. The ice comes from Greenland and Antarctica, and every sample is carefully split, photographed and analyzed.
The ice is transferred to other laboratories around the country, as researchers are trying to test different theories of Earth’s climate past. Based on their analysis, they further make new prediction models on how our planet will change.
The ancient ice offers information such as greenhouse gasses, cosmic events, and air temperature. It was formed by snow compression and took several years of accumulation. The oldest piece is 800,000 years old.
The samples are taken from a depth of 9,800 feet and then they are shipped to the US.
The air inside the ice can offer information on the gasses existing in the atmosphere when the ice began to form. Radioactive analysis of the atoms inside the snow provides clues on cosmic events such as solar flares.
The ice can also contain dust particles from other continents, which help the researchers make predictions on the atmospheric circulation in different moments of time.
As one of the scientists explains, air gets trapped inside the ice sheets, making them helpful archeological artifacts. Moreover, the ice records temperature in a very precise way.
Ice Measurements Techniques
To determine the age of the ice, scientists make calculations based on the depth of the ice sheet from where the sample was taken from, and the volcano ash caught inside.
Based on the ice analysis, scientists managed to make a comparison between the level of carbon dioxide today and those from centuries ago. The conclusion was that the concentration of CO2 in the present reached the highest percentage from the last one million years.
Scientists also use the analysis to obtain better climate predictions, as they can use the parameters measured to make backward process simulations. When the model is played forward, it can offer information on general climate trends.
When it comes to how the ice is handled, the traditional method is to slice it down and make an analysis on each piece. A new technique is to melt the sample and then analyze each drop, which can provide 2,400 measurements for each yard of ice, as opposed to only 20 obtained through the traditional method.
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