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Australia Plans To Drill 2,000-Year-Old Ice Core In Antarctica 62

Posted by timothy
from the best-place-for-it-really dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Australia announced Saturday a new project to drill a deep ice core in Antarctica, which may shed light on past climatic conditions in the continent. The project, Aurora Basin North project, will involve researchers drilling a 2,000-year-old ice core, in order to search for the scientific 'holy grail' of the ice core."
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Australia Plans To Drill 2,000-Year-Old Ice Core In Antarctica

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  • Oil (Score:5, Funny)

    by jamesh (87723) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:09AM (#42312031)

    I hope we find some oil there too. By accident of course.

  • Cores (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:15AM (#42312047) Journal
    In the Beaufort Sea just north of Canada's Yukon there's a spot that has been covered in ice in the winter and exposed to the sun in the summer, for a billion years - give or take some ice ages - back to when the substrate was actually near the equator. And the sediment there on the sea floor has more to tell us about our climate, global insolation and biological action than these antarctic cores do. Worse still, oil drillers are actively drilling in this area and willing to give up the cores for free as they are an unavoidable byproduct of their operations. Why are we not hearing about the research into these arctic sediment cores?
    • Re:Cores (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gdargau d . n et> on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:31AM (#42312119) Homepage
      There's plenty of papers about them, but they give different scopes. Usually Antarctic cores are more precise and less sensitive to random fluctuations. They also measure more things (temperature, humidity, direct CO2 levels...). In the case of TFA, a 40m core is less than impressive if you compare it to 4km long cores from Vostok or Concordia [gdargaud.net], but the gist of the article is that it will be very precise for each year.
      • by symbolset (646467) *
        Not to put too fine a point on it, but: "shenanigans".
      • by arisvega (1414195)

        oil drillers are actively drilling in this area and willing to give up the cores for free as they are an unavoidable byproduct of their operations

        In those cases, would you happen to know how scientifically usable is the drilled core in comparison to scientific expeditions, where the core is the end goal (and not a byproduct)?

        • by dargaud (518470)
          Sorry but I don't. I was there during the aforementioned Epica beginning and end, but I'm no glaciologist so that's pretty much the limit of my knowledge. Anyway good datation crosses the different methods AND different geographical origins: dendrochronology, ice cores, lake cores, deep ocean cores, historical archive (wine production, solar spots...), historical artifacts (sealed glass bottles)...
    • by khallow (566160)

      In the Beaufort Sea just north of Canada's Yukon there's a spot that has been covered in ice in the winter and exposed to the sun in the summer, for a billion years - give or take some ice ages - back to when the substrate was actually near the equator. And the sediment there on the sea floor has more to tell us about our climate, global insolation and biological action than these antarctic cores do.

      Knowledge is not a single quantity. The only way for something to provide "more" knowledge is if it provides everything that a rival thing would provide and more. The Antarctic core provides a possible view of the last 2000 years which is fairly important since that period has temperature proxies which bridge modern temperature measurements to prehistoric ones.

      And because it's a particularly critical period of time coming off of the last ice age. For example, was the Medieval Warm Period [wikipedia.org] as warm as prese

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357)

      I read an article on this a few days ago. Discovery, I think it was on.

      Anyway - there seem to be a number of assumptions made about the quality of the ice core, as well as the detail to be found in that ice core. Such assumptions lead me to believe that the results of that ice core are probably already in. They already know that they are going to verify mankind has caused global warming, and that we are accelerating global warming at a catastrophic rate. I'm about half certain that they've already enter

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        If you know what's to be found in exploratory ice cores, why drill them at all?
        • Sometimes, a "scientist" has preestablished conclusions, for which he needs to find substantiating evidence. In such a case, you might expect the "scientists" to tell us what they are going to find before the experiment is concluded.

          Or, if you prefer me to be more blunt, the global warming crowd is openly telling us what they are going to find already. They've made their minds up. Evidence WILL be made to support their conclusions, no matter how they have to spin and warp the data.

          • by symbolset (646467) *
            Excuse me, but that is not how science works. At all.
            • Re:Cores (Score:4, Insightful)

              by symbolset (646467) * on Monday December 17, 2012 @07:35AM (#42312743) Journal
              Maybe you were thinking religion. That is definitely how religion works.
            • You know that, I know that, and most everyone on slashdot knows that. The media does not know that, nor does John Q. Public, and the people who understand science the least, are the politicians.

              FACT: We already have a large number of ice cores from around the world. The premise of the article is, this new ice core is going to give us data on global warming that none of the other ice cores gave us. We are being given premature statements about the accuracy and precision of this new ice core. By "prematu

              • by symbolset (646467) *

                I'm not even going to address the rest of your post.

                You know that, I know that, and most everyone on slashdot knows that.

                Then why did you say it?

                • *sigh*

                  I don't know how you can miss the cynicism, and the explanation for the cynicism that I've posted above.

                  One more time:

                  WE ARE ALREADY BEING ASSURED OF THE QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF THE DATA TO BE OBTAINED FROM THIS ICE CORE, BEFORE THE EQUIPMENT IS EVEN SET UP!

                  A more appropriate claim would be, "We hope that an ice core from this area will give us more detailed information than previous ice cores have given us. We expect that changes in climate will be documented more clearly in the thicker layers of ic

          • by riverat1 (1048260)

            Sometimes, a "scientist" has preestablished conclusions, for which he needs to find substantiating evidence.

            It's true that scientists come up with hypotheses that they then test but anyone who ignores contrary evidence is not being a scientist.

            The other problem with your cynicism is that scientists are (usually) smart people. They have to know that if they can find that contrary evidence to their hypothesis then others will too sooner or later. I doubt there are many scientists willing to risk their reputations and careers like that by publishing something they know to be false, especially in a hot field like c

    • Worse still, oil drillers are actively drilling in this area and willing to give up the cores for free as they are an unavoidable byproduct of their operations. Why are we not hearing about the research into these arctic sediment cores?

      Because any "scientific evidence" which has been through the hands of an oil driller is contaminated, on principle and by definition.

      • Re:Cores (Score:4, Insightful)

        by symbolset (646467) * on Monday December 17, 2012 @07:11AM (#42312673) Journal
        Believe it or not, oil drillers are even more interested in scientific findings about their cores than most of us are.
  • Ambitious project... Headed by a man named Burke...

    Anyone know Australian history?

    Look up Burke and Wills - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burke_and_Wills_expedition [wikipedia.org]

  • The article makes claims like it's the first time ever. Maybe at that specific site but that's not what it says. They've been drilling ice cores for decades and a lot deeper than 2,000 years old. I think the oldest are closer to a million years, I believe those were taken in Greenland. The point is there have been older cores drilled in Antarctica. It's good to hear more are being drilled because it adds to the record but the article was written by some one that knew nothing about the subject.
    • by riverat1 (1048260) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:24AM (#42312297)

      Greenland ice cores only go back 100,000 years or so. The oldest ice cores that I'm aware of are around 800,000 years from Antarctica. The attraction of this new site is apparently the snowfall is greater in this area than in most of Antarctica and so the layers in the ice core will be thicker allowing more precision in the measurements. They're saying this is preliminary research that could eventually lead to million year old ice cores.

      • They're saying this is preliminary research that could eventually lead to million year old ice cores.

        Am I the only one thinking "worlds most expensive frozen margarita" ?

        • by arisvega (1414195)

          Am I the only one thinking "worlds most expensive frozen margarita" ?

          Nope- there have already been coctail parties in Greenland (following long weeks of science) and guess where the ice in the drinks was from =)

          • by Sulphur (1548251)

            Am I the only one thinking "worlds most expensive frozen margarita" ?

            Nope- there have already been coctail parties in Greenland (following long weeks of science) and guess where the ice in the drinks was from =)

            Greenland?

          • Mastodon tears?
  • So, if you shut the drill down&#226;&#8364;&#166; why can I still hear drilling?
  • by White Flame (1074973) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:27AM (#42312315)

    This is a cover up for some sort of religious artifact expedition!

    It belongs in a museum!

  • What is the purpose of the study ice cores? Is this to the exploitation of resources?
    • No - ice cores are one of two things. Either it is pretty much pure research into prehistory - OR, see my post above. I think it's smoke and mirrors, to be used to help convince the public that global warming has been accelerated to a panic level.

      A little panic in the streets always facilitates the further redistribution of wealth from those who have it, to those who have even more of it.

    • Re:reply (Score:4, Informative)

      by arisvega (1414195) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:04AM (#42312867)

      What is the purpose of the study ice cores? Is this to the exploitation of resources?

      Gases can get 'diluted' into liquids, almost the same way solids (e.g. sugar, salt) do. The assumption is that gases get 'locked' into the ice (along with other stuff) so one can drill a core, keep it as frozen and pristine (avoid contamination) as possible during transport, get it to the lab, and perform precision measurements of what one is looking for.

      The core is thought to 'record' the atmospheric history, because the levels of certain gases at various parts of the core reflect the atmospheric abundances of this and that gas, at the time that particular part of the core was frozen (created). So, in principle, a '2000-year' core is a core obtained by drilling to a depth that was the surface of the snow/ice 2000 years ago. Therefore by vaporizing parts of the core and taking precise measurements (say with a mass spectrometer) can give clues to the dominant atmospheric conditions of that age. Other frozen material can come as a bonus.

      The above are just basic principles, as I understand them, and I am certain the actual measurements and processing is far from trivial. But I am not an expert on this field, I only know a few people that are; perhaps someone that is an expert can consider contributing some more information.

      • by Jawnn (445279)
        Yes, that's the drill (no pun intended, honest) but that "2,000 years" bit has to be a typo. That's nothing. Other groups have analyzed cores that go back several hundred thousand years.
  • Now we'll know why the barbarian hordes really wanted a Roman holiday.
  • Many other deep cores have been drilled in Antarctica. Does one of the Australian editors of Slashdot have an inferiority complex and post trivial OZ news?
  • A "2,000 year old" ice core implies that was how long ago it was drilled...
    Just sayin'....
  • Ok, guys, how is this different from: Drilling Begins At Lake Hidden Beneath Antarctic [slashdot.org]

    oh and almost forgot, a critical question: Are they using sterilised water at near boiling point?

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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