Press release

20,000 years before our time

[28. January 2003] 

Ice Core-Drilling in Antarctic thousand meters deep now
At Kohnen-Station of Alfred-Wegener-Institut for Polar and Marine Research scientists unearthed an ice core from a depth of one thousand meters on 22nd january 2003. This ice is about 20,000 years old and contains information about the last glacial maximum. To date this, an ash layer produced by a prehistoric volcano 14,000 years ago, has been helpful. It was found in a depth of 802 meters, and was also found and dated at the Japanese Station Dome Fuji. Thus it could work as a milestone. The 24 women and men at Kohnen (75°S, 0°E) celebrated the thousandth metre with champagne and music. Meanwhile the work is continuing: until the end of summer season the scientists want to reach a depth of 1400 meters.

Back in time with EPICA
The drilling in Dronning Maud land is part of the “European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica” (EPICA), a joint effort of 12 institutions from 10 European countries, founded by the European Union and national contributions. In the framework of EPICA two deep ice cores are currently drilled in Antarctica for climatic research. One at Dome Concordia is already 3163 m deep and is expected to cover 500,000 to 1,000,000 years; this will be the longest climate archive ever derived from an ice core. The core being drilled in Dronning Maud Land will cover “only” up to 200,000 years, however, its higher temporal resolution will allow more detailed climate reconstructions. Even more important: it represents the first deep ice core record located in the Atlantic sector of Antarctica and is, therefore, especially suited to study the coupling of past climate changes in the northern and southern hemisphere. This coupling is a still unsolved riddle for paleoclimatologists and may have also implications for the understanding of future climate changes.

Bremerhaven, 28.1.03

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Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.