An international team of scientists has embarked on a continent-hopping expedition to build a future climate ice vault before the world's glaciers vanish forever.
Glaciologists from across the globe are working on a multi-year project, a.k.a. Ice Memory Project, collecting ice cores from glaciers to create a global archive of glacier ice in Antarctica before it melts.
The Ice Memory Project’s goal is to preserve the information that has been locked away deep inside a glacier, developing over centuries of snowfall before the glaciers melt, so generations to come can better understand climate change and the climate crisis Earth is facing.
When places like Greenland can lose a record-breaking 12.5 billion tons of ice in one day, preserving this extensive record of ice cores is pivotal in building models that could help scientists predict how our climate could shift and change in the future.
The scientists embarking on these expeditions often go to remote areas and have to face anything from polar bears to a lot of harsh, unpredictable weather conditions.
The project team has already embarked on numerous field missions over the last few years, trekking across continents and trying to collect as many ice cores as possible.
Learn more about how scientists and the Ice Memory Project are uncovering the information embedded in the glaciers, interpreting it, and working to preserve it for future generations on this episode of Focal Point.
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Greenland Lost 12.5 Billion Tons of Ice in a Single Day
“The momentous single-day melt followed another record-breaking episode recorded the day before. According to the Polar Portal, a monitoring website run by Danish polar research institutions in conjunction with the NSIDC, the ice sheet shed more than 10 billion tons of ice from 60 percent of its surface on Wednesday, July 31.”
The Ancient Memories Trapped in the World’s Glaciers
“The tongues of ice on the world’s highest mountains are melting away, but we might be able to save the precious archive of information trapped within them before global warming causes it to disappear forever.”
NASA: An introduction to ice cores
“When archaeologists want to learn about the history of an ancient civilization, they dig deeply into the soil, searching for tools and artifacts to complete the story. Scientists who study Earth’s past climates, called paleoclimatologists, take a similar approach. However, instead of digging into the soil, they look for clues about our planet’s climate history by studying coral reefs, digging into ocean and lake floor sediment and drilling deeply into glaciers and ice sheets.”