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West Antarctic Ice Sheet Drilling
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West Antarctic Ice Sheet Drilling

July 1, 2010
West Antarctic Ice Sheet Drilling Scientist Joe Souney of the University of New Hampshire (right) bags an ice core at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide field camp, where he and a small research team drilled two ice cores during the Antarctic summer of 2006. The ice core will be taken back to the United States for study. The WAIS Divide deep ice coring project in West Antarctica is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is the second component to the larger WAISCORES initiative. The purpose of WAIS Divide is to collect a deep ice core from the flow divide in central West Antarctica in order to develop a unique series of interrelated climate, ice dynamics and biologic records focused on understanding interactions among global earth systems. The WAIS Divide ice core will provide Antarctic records of environmental change with the highest possible time resolution for the last ~100,000 years, and will be the Southern Hemisphere equivalent of the Greenland GISP2, GRIP and North GRIP ice cores. The most significant and unique characteristic of the project will be the development of climate records with an absolute, annual-layer-counted chronology for the most recent ~40,000 years. In addition, due to the high snowfall rate, the WAIS Divide record will have only a small offset between the ages of the ice and the air trapped in the ice. The WAIS Divide ice core will enable detailed comparison of environmental conditions between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and the study of greenhouse gas concentrations in the paleo-atmosphere, with a greater level of detail than previously possible. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation. To read more about Souney's ice-coring research trip to the ice, see the article "The core of WAIS Divide field camp," in the Jan. 7, 2007, edition of the Antarctic Sun. To learn more about the of WAIS Divide program in general, visit the WAIS Web site. (Date of Image: Dec. 6, 2006)