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Ice core drilling breaks single-season record

Copenhagen-led international drilling project digs to new depths in Greenland

An international ice coring project in Greenland has just set a record for single-season deep ice-core drilling, recovering more than a mile of ice core which will help scientists predict the future implications of climate change, writes the website

The deep ice core drilling to the depth of 1757.84 m is a new world record for ice core drilling in a 100-day summer season, beating the previous record from the NorthGRIP ice core project 1996-2004.

The project, which is led by the University of Copenhagen, is known as the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling, or NEEM. Fourteen nations are involved in the project, and their goal is to retrieve ice from the interglacial period known as the Eemian Period that ended about 120,000 years ago.

Hope to hit bedrock

In early August, the NEEM project drilled to ice layers dating back to 38,500 years ago. They hope to hit bedrock at the end of next summer.

Previous Greenland ice core drilling projects covered the period from the last ice age to the present. The ice layers from this period are compressed and folded, and therefore difficult to interpret.

Ice layers formed over millennia by compressed snow reveal information on past temperatures and precipitation levels and the levels of gasses present in ancient atmospheres.

As the NEEM ice cores are deeper than the previously available samples, they are thicker, more intact and most likely contain more accurate, specific information.

Analogue to warmer future

The climactically warm Eemian period occurred between the last two ice ages, and Greenland was 5 degrees Celsius warmer at that time. The results of the record-breaking ice core drilling will prove an interesting analogue for the global warming predicted for the coming years, the scientists hope.

»The results from the ice core will tell us about this climate and allow us assess the risks of future abrupt climate changes,« explains Professor Dorthe Dahl Jensen of the University of Copenhagen’s Centre of Ice and Climate.