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Polar Scientists Will Reveal 50 Million Years Of Climate History


Invitation to a press conference for the start of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program’s Arctic Coring Expedition, ACEX, on board the icebreaker Oden in the port of Tromsø, Norway on Friday 6 August 2004 at 11.00

Three icebreakers will carry a team of international scientists to the Arctic Ocean next month (8 August), to study its geological history. The Arctic Coring Expedition, ACEX, aims to reach several hundreds of metres into the sediments of the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain chain, which contain millions of years of climate history. No operation on this scale has ever before been attempted by scientists in such a hostile environment and the project has the highest scientific priority.

By analysing samples from the 500 metre-thick sediment on top of the ridge scientists will reconstruct the climatic and environmental history of the Arctic. The Arctic plays a fundamental role to the climate and the complexity of this basin can only be examined by direct sampling of sediments.

Climate change, from hothouse to icehouse, and the cause of this change is vigorously debated among scientists and the ACEX team will make a valuable contribution to the discussions by revealing the long-term history of Arctic sea ice.

The Lomonosov Ridge, about 1000 metres under the sea-surface, located at 88°N about 250 kilometres from the North Pole. The expedition will return after six weeks, in mid-September, and later during the year the analysing work will start at Bremen University in Germany.

ACEX is a very complex mission and the operational plan includes three icebreakers; the Swedish registered Vidar Viking which will serve as the coring vessel, the Swedish icebreaker Oden which will be a “protection shield” as well as the operational HQ and the Russian icebreaker Sovetskiy Soyuz will be the main icebreaker. As the Arctic weather and ice conditions can be very harsh it is a great challenge to keep the vessel-mounted rig stationary while it retrieves cores from the seabed below.

Eva Grönlund | alfa
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