Thursday, May 07, 2015

International team of researchers to search for ancient ice in Antarctica

An international team of researchers will be involved in a large-scale project in Antarctica to study ancient ice to try to forecast future global climate change.

"We want to recover ancient ice to study the causes of changes in the Earth’s climate system," Vladimir Lipenkov, head of the climate change laboratory of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, told TASS ahead of a Russian-French seminar entitled "Climate and the Environment By Ice Core Data" opening in St. Petersburg on Thursday.

"About one million years ago, the climatic system changed as though toeing the line to lengthen the stride. Glacial and interglacial periods began to alternate at intervals of 100,000 years, not 40,000 year, while air temperature fluctuations and variations in the world ocean level became more apparent. The difference in the sea level in ice and warmer periods reached 120 metres after the climate change," he said.

Analysis of ice older than one million years will help scientists to unlock the secrets of the Earth’s past. The content of various gases will tell about the composition of the atmosphere and major factors influencing the formation of the climatic system type.

Researchers will try to find such ancient ice in Antarctica’s central areas where kilometres-thick ice rests on rock.

"One of possible ancient ice search areas is in the vicinity of Russia’s round-the-year station Vostok, but not above Lake Vostok but somewhere near it," Lipenkov said, adding that other possible areas included a section near the French Antarctic station Concordia located 500-700 kilometres away from Russia’s Vostok and an area in the vicinity of China’s station.

He said it was not ruled out that ice cores recovered from a well drilled to the subglacial Lake Vostok would be used in the project’s pilot phase. In the next five years, it is planned to find an optimal site for deep-hole ice drilling and optimal technical solutions. The ultimate goal of the project is to issue a forecast of possible global changes in the immediate and long-term perspectives.

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