Image of the Week: Ice Cores

Thin section of an ice core. Credit: Sepp Kipfstuhl/Alfred Wegener Institute, via Wikimedia Commons.Thin section of an ice core under polarized light. Credit: Sepp Kipfstuhl/Alfred Wegner Institute, via Wikimedia Commons.

Will Canada’s invaluable collection of ice cores tens of thousands of years old survive a season of heated budget cuts? Nature News reports on an email appeal from a government glaciologist last week asking the Canadian research community to provide cold storage for the beleaguered collection in Canada’s Ice Core Research Laboratory. The cores have been collected throughout the Canadian Arctic in the past 40 years, including from ice caps and ice fields not represented in collections elsewhere. They comprise more than half a mile/1,000 meters of ice documenting up to 80,000 years of climate history. They’re rich with dust, gas bubbles, and chemical isotopes that reveal atmospheric and temperature conditions of past climates and past climate changes. No other lab in Canada is big enough to store them. Yet already researchers in the US—citing the collaborativeness of the Canadian researchers—are expressing their willingness to help.