Camera dives into Antarctic borehole to reveal Earth’s ‘oldest ice’ | Climate News

A camera has been sent 93 meters underground to reveal what may be some of the oldest ice on Earth.

The video shows him hurtling down a borehole as researchers collected samples they estimate to be over two million years old.

Doctoral student Austin Carter filmed the clip in Allan Hills, East Antarctica, on December 23.

He and other researchers traveled with the Center for Old Ice Exploration (COLDEX), which has a mission to find and extract the continent’s oldest ice.

COLDEX hopes its research will help understand the evolution and future of Earth’s climate, including the sensitivity of ice sheets to higher levels of greenhouse gases and how the Antarctic ice sheets may react to warmer climates.

Radar and GPS surveys are used to identify potential sites, but the search area is large because the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is about the size of America.

Scientists have likened their five-year mission to trying to find a needle in a haystack and initial explorations are focusing on an area about half the size of Germany.

“We’re looking for the perfect spot where you’re going to have a full streak of ice on the order of two miles thick,” glaciologist Peter Neff told the Antarctic Sun.

Information about Earth’s climate, such as the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, can be measured by analyzing air bubbles trapped in glacial ice.

Scientists currently have a glimpse of climate and CO2 levels dating back 800,000 years thanks to an ice core drilled in East Antarctica 20 years ago.

However, the current project hopes to go back much further.

“The goal is to stretch the record of climate change in ice cores as far as possible,” Edward Brook, climate researcher and director of COLDEX, told the Antarctic Sun.

“It would even be remarkably significant if we could push it back to three or four million years or even longer.”


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