Beyond EPICA: oldest ice drilling in Antarctica

15 April 2019

The Beyond Epica project is going to drill for 1.5-million-year-old ice from Antarctica. NWO contributes to the project in order to reconstruct the climate in the past.

Via the Netherlands Polar Programme NWO is making EUR 300,000 available for participation in the Beyond EPICA consortium. This will give Dutch researchers access to the project, which is worth a total of EUR 35 million. The AWI is leading the Beyond EPICA project, which aims to retrieve 1.5-million-year-old ice from Antarctica for the first time. Climate scientists are hoping to find out how the earth’s climate response shifted from the previously dominant 40,000-year cycles to the current 100,000-year cycles. This shift took place during the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (900,000 to 1,200,000 years ago); a period about which very little is known. The ice cores drilled in East Antarctica contain bubbles of gas that will enable researchers to trace and date concentrations of greenhouse gases from the past. With this knowledge, we will be better able to predict the climate response to future changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases. We will learn more about the connections between the carbon cycle, glaciers, oceans and the atmosphere.

The Netherlands was also involved in this project’s predecessor, EPICA (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica). This project won the European Union’s Descartes Prize in 2008.

Source: NWO