Antarctic ice cores a window to the past

Dec. 21, 2012 at 7:24 PM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Scientist say they've managed to obtain a bedrock sample from Antarctica that could yield information on the climate of the frozen continent 30,000 years ago.

A New Zealand-led international science expedition drilled 2,500 feet through the ice on Roosevelt Island in the Ross Sea brought 16 inches of bedrock sediment from the base of the ice sheet, China's Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

"The drill cores will provide the most detailed record of the climate history of the Ross Sea region for the last 30,000 years, the time during which the coastal margin of the Antarctic ice sheet retreated following the last great ice age," team leader Nancy Bertler of Victoria University's Antarctic Research Center said.

Successfully obtaining the sediment sample was a "huge breakthrough" that could point to how the frozen continent will be affected by global warming, the researchers said, and reveal what the region was like the last time earth's climate was as warm as the present.

The ice cores will be transported by cargo ship to New Zealand where a team of researchers from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Germany, Denmark, China, South Korea, Sweden and Britain will study them at New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in Wellington in May.

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