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Chemical impurities in ice provide clues to past climate

Dr. Tavi Murray (Uni. Leeds) & Dr. Andy Smith (BAS) prepare shallow ice cores, obtained from hot water drilling, for storage and transport back to Rothera Base.
Dr. Tavi Murray (Uni. Leeds) & Dr. Andy Smith (BAS) prepare shallow ice cores, obtained from hot water drilling, for storage and transport back to Rothera Base.

Presentation summary for the IPY Science Conference 2010 in Oslo by Dr. Eric Wolff

A unique record of past climate is locked deep in Antarctica’s vast *ice sheets. Scientists extract samples of ice, and using a number of different analysis techniques, reconstruct a picture of past temperature and levels of greenhouse gases like CO2. The oldest Antarctic ice reveals the longest record of past climate.

Electrical conductivity of the traces of chemical impurities in the ice can be measured at *ice core sampling sites using sensitive instruments and influences traces seen from the air using *radar technology. By linking the chemistry, the ice core conductivity and the airborne radar, scientists hope to identify deep-field sampling locations where the ice is oldest and most likely to give an accurate picture of past climate.

As part of an International Polar Year project the electrical and chemical properties were measured on a range of ice cores from a number of different sites around Antarctica.

Session information

Speaker:
Dr. Eric Wolff

Contact:
Tel: (0)1223 221491
Email: ewwo@bas.ac.uk

Tuesday 8 June @ 16:00
Session: T2-1

Definitions

Ice sheet
the huge mass of ice, up to 4km thick that covers bedrock in Antarctica or Greenland. It flows from the centre of the continent towards the coast where it feeds ice shelves
Ice core
cylindrical section of ice removed from an ice sheet in order to study past climate patterns
Radars
a method that uses high-frequency radio pulses to detect size and shape of objects