September 1, 2009

Ice core drillers set record in Greenland

An international team of scientists, led by Denmark, says it set a single-season deep ice core drilling record this summer in Greenland.

The researchers, with the University of Colorado at Boulder as the lead U.S. institution, recovered more than a mile of ice core that is expected to help scientists better assess the risks of abrupt climate change in the future.

The project, known as the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling, is being undertaken by 14 nations led by the University of Copenhagen. The goal is to retrieve ice from the last interglacial episode known as the Eemian Period that ended about 120,000 years ago, said University of Colorado Professor Jim White, who is leading the U.S. research contingent.

The team said it reached a depth of 5,767 feet in early August, where ice layers date to 38,500 years ago. The scientists hope to hit bedrock at 8,350 feet by the end of next summer, reaching ice deposited during the warm Eemian period,

Evidence from ancient ice cores tell us that when greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, the climate warms "¦ ice sheets melt and sea levels rise, said White. If we see comparable rises in sea level in the future like we have seen in the ice-core record, we can pretty much say good-bye to American coastal cities like Miami, Houston, Norfolk, New Orleans and Oakland.