Australia announced plans to drill a 2,000 year-old ice
core in the heart of Antarctica in a bid to retrieve a frozen record of
how the planet has evolved and what might be in store.
The Aurora Basin North project involves scientists from Australia,
France, Denmark and the United States who hope it will also advance the
search for the scientific "holy grail" of the million-year-old ice core.
The project, in an area that harbors some of the deepest ice in the
frozen continent, over three kilometers (1.9-miles) thick, will give
experts access to some of the most detailed records yet of past climate
in the vast region.
Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke on Saturday said such
drills were critically important to understanding how the climate has
naturally varied to help predict future responses to global climate
"Ice cores provide the written history of our atmosphere and our
water," he said in announcing the project which will start with a French
team traversing the site in December next year.
The eight-week drill through 400 meters (1,312 feet) of ice, 600
kilometers inland from Australia's Casey Station in the continent's
east, will follow soon after.
"Seeking ice cores from this new area where there is much higher snow
fall than other inland sites provides a massive increase in the level
of detail which lives within the ice," Burke added.
"We have had information that is 2,000 years old before, but we have
never had access to this sort of detail which we believe lies deep
within this part of the ice."
He said it was an international effort in the quest for even older ice.
"It is expected that this will lead to actual drilling for a one
million-year-old core by various international consortia in the coming
years," he said.