Tale of the deepest ice core drilled from Antarctic Peninsula


Thousands of years of data recorded in ice

Researchers here are hopeful that the new core they drilled through an ice field on the Antarctic Peninsula will contain ice dating back into the last ice age. If so, that record should give new insight into past global climate changes.

The expedition in early winter to the Bruce Plateau, an ice field straddling a narrow ridge on the northernmost tongue of the southernmost continent, yielded a core that was 445.6 meters long, the longest yet recovered from that region of Antarctica. And while remarkably successful, the field work tested the researchers’ resilience more than most of their previous expeditions.

“It was the field season from hell,” explained Ellen Mosley-Thompson, professor of geography at Ohio State University and leader of the project. “Everything that could go wrong did, and almost everything that could break did.”

Bad weather delayed their transport to the remote drill site and snowstorms were a recurrent problem, preventing support flights in to the team. Twice, their drills became stuck deep in the ice, a drill motor broke and all three of the drill gearboxes failed, causing them to cannibalize those devices to construct a new one.

RTFA. It would make a fine documentary of the dedication and inventive spirit required of researchers working in the extremes our planet offers. The questions asked are as important as the ingenuity needed to get the samples.

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