Press release

2000 meters deep in Antarctic ice

[08. January 2004] 

European ice core drilling project at Kohnen station retrieves old ice for climate research
At the Kohnen station operated by Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar- and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, the international drilling team reached a depth of 2000 meters on January 7 at 0210 hours. The ice from that depth is about 100.000 years old and yields information on climate conditions of the distant past.

The 25 women and men at Kohnen base (75°S 0°W) celebrated the 2000 meters in the morning with champagne and music at minus 25°C and in bright sunshine. Meanwhile work continues around the clock in three shifts. Till the end of the season in the beginning of February a depth of 2400 meters should be reached. Drilling down to bedrock at a depth of approximately 2800 meters will take yet another field season.

Climate research
"The ice which we retrieve from that region is the first deep ice core from the Atlantic sector of Antarctica" says Prof. Heinz Miller, the project coordinator, "and will allow to study climate linkages and phasing between northern and southern hemisphere in unprecedented detail. It will therefore help to better understand the climate system and its sometimes very rapid changes."
The drilling operation at Kohnen base is part of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA), which operates at 2 locations of the icy continent. At the station Dome Concordia ice has already been recovered which is 900.000 years old; it is the longest climate archive yet recovered from ice. The ice core at Kohnen station will reach an age of approximately 300.000 years but will have a higher temporal resolution. At Dome Concordia drilling operation has been suspended temporarily and will be resumed in 2004/05 when additional funds become available. There about 100 meters of ice wait to be cored extending the climate record from ice to about 1 million years.
EPICA is a long-term large scale project under the umbrella of European Science Foundation with researchers from 10 European nations participating and which is funded from national sources and from European Union.



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The Institute

The Alfred Wegener Institute pursues research in the polar regions and the oceans of mid and high latitudes. As one of the 19 centres of the Helmholtz Association it coordinates polar research in Germany and provides ships like the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations for the international scientific community.