Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The quest for the oldest ice on Earth

14.11.2016

EU funds three-year project to decipher climate history with 2.2 million Euros

In Antarctica internationally leading ice and climate scientists of 14 institutions from ten European countries are looking for the oldest ice on Earth. Goal is to find the place, where in Antarctica the ice core can be drilled which goes furthest back in Earth’s history. Such a core would allow to deciphering past processes in the climate system to improve prognoses for the future.

The European Commission funds the project “Beyond EPICA – Oldest Ice” (BE-OI) with 2.2 million Euros, which is coordinated by the German Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI).

To find 1.5 million year old ice is the goal of “Beyond EPICA – Oldest Ice“ (BE-OI). For comparison: currently, the oldest ice core goes back 800,000 years in time. Such cores contain the air from past times. With laboratory analyses the past composition of the atmosphere can be revealed.

“We do not know, why there was a change in the glacial-interglacial periodicity 900,000 to 1,200,000 years ago”, explains BE-OI project coordinator Prof Olaf Eisen, glaciologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute.

Before this so-called mid-Pleistocene transition glacial and interglacial periods took turns every about 40,000 years. Since then this period last about 100,000 years. This knowledge originates for example from sediment cores, but these lack the atmospheric gases. “We cannot dedicatedly investigate the role of the greenhouse gases, because we do not have suitable samples”, says Prof Frank Wilhelms, AWI glaciologist and subproject leader.

BE-OI is supposed to change that: The project includes geophysical measurements, rapid drilling technologies and age determination of ice on site. In addition, required drilling technologies will be developed further and tested. The first hands-on work will be starting shortly: In Antarctica AWI glaciologists together with European BE-OI partners will investigate the ice sheets’ thickness, its physical properties and the topography of the underlying bedrock at two different sites from an airplane as well as on ground. Ice thickness is just a first indicator of past ice, as different snow accumulation and ice flow behaviour determine, how thick the ice sheet is today.

During the ground programme in a field camp the scientists will concurrently measure snow accumulation and will use new technologies, to drill boreholes and determine temperatures. “During previous studies we determined key regions, where we expect the oldest continuous ice record on Earth” says Olaf Eisen. “Now we have to prove this and it is important that we learn as much as possible about deposition processes and the composition of the ice”, explains the glaciologist.

Besides such scientific questions, the project also has the task to assemble technical and personnel expertise for such a deep-drilling project, to set up a science and management plan and to establish the budget and funding. In order to generate a maximum scientific knowledge gain, the wider paleoclimate community and the modelling community are included as well.

Background:

The Beyond EPICA – Oldest Ice (BE-OI) consortium and its international partners unite a globally unique concentration of scientific expertise and infrastructure for ice-core investigations. BE-OI is an EU Coordination and Support Action (CSA). It delivers the technical, scientific and financial basis for a comprehensive plan to retrieve an ice core up to 1.5 million years old in a future project during the Beyond EPICA – Drilling Phase. This would be an important contribution for the future exploration of Antarctica and promises unique insights about climate and the global carbon fluxes. This knowledge will improve future prognoses of climate development with solid quantitative data and will allow establishing more targeted strategies, to cope with the societal challenges of global change.

BE-OI is the European contribution for the global search for a suitable site for a ice-core deep drilling. The consortium takes care of the pre-site surveys for site selection around Dome C and Dome Fuji, both potentially appropriate regions in East Antarctica. Other science consortia will investigate other regions under the umbrella of the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences.

Members of the consortium:
• Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI, Germany), Coordination
• Institut Polaire Français Paul Émile Victor (IPEV, France)
• Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA, Italy)
• Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France)
• Natural Environment Research Council - British Antarctic Survey (NERC-BAS, Great Britain)
• Universiteit Utrecht – Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (UU-IMAU, Netherlands)
• Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI, Norway)
• Stockholms Universitet (SU, Sweden)
• Universität Bern (UBERN, Switzerland)
• Università di Bologna (UNIBO, Italy)
• University of Cambridge (UCAM, Great Britain)
• Kobenhavns Universitet (UCPH, Denmark)
• Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium)
• Lunds Universitet (ULUND, Sweden)

“Beyond EPICA – Oldest Ice”
In Antarctica internationally leading ice and climate scientists are looking for the oldest ice-core record on Earth. They want to find the place, where in Antarctica the ice core can be drilled which goes furthest back in Earth’s history, up to 1.5 million years. Such a core would allow to deciphering past processes in the climate system to improve prognoses for the future. "Beyond EPICA - Oldest Ice" has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730258 with. The project runs from October 2016 to September 2019 and brings together experts of 14 institutions from ten European countries, coordinated by the German Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.

EMBARGO: Not to be published before 11:00 am CET on 14 November 2016

Notes for Editors:
You can find printable images in our media library on http://bit.ly/2fzVdCR and - after the embargo has lifted - on our website: <www.awi.de/nc/en/about-us/service/press/press-release/ die-suche-nach-dem-aeltesten-eis-der-erde.html>

Additional information can be found on the project website: http://www.beyondepica.eu/

Your contacts at the Alfred Wegener Institute are Prof. Dr. Olaf Eisen (phone: +49 471 4831-1969, e-mail: Olaf.Eisen(at)awi.de) and Prof. Dr. Frank Wilhelms (phone: +49 471 4831-1551; e-mail: Frank.Wilhelms(at)awi.de) and in the Communications Department Dr. Folke Mehrtens (phone: +49 471 4831-2007; e-mail: Folke.Mehrtens(at)awi.de).

Follow the Alfred Wegener Institute on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AWI_Media) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AlfredWegenerInstitute).

The Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and oceans of the high and mid-latitudes. It coordinates polar research in Germany and provides major infrastructure to the international scientific community, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctica. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Ralf Röchert | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Tracking down the origins of gold
08.11.2017 | Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien gGmbH

nachricht Lasagni awarded with Materials Science and Technology Prize 2017
09.10.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>