International Partnerships in Ice Core Science (IPICS)-International Polar Year Initiative

Project Description
Ice cores have contributed substantially to understanding climate change. They provide convincing evidence of large, abrupt climate changes, demonstrate links between greenhouse gases and climate, and show how humans have altered the atmosphere. However, there is a great deal more to learn. In 2004, representatives of all major ice coring nations agreed on a common agenda for the next decade. This agenda looks beyond established projects and includes coring over all available timescales, with highest feasible resolution. IPY provides an opportunity to launch this initiative. Other ice coring efforts, including some that are part of International Partnerships in Ice Coring (IPICS), are the subject of separate IPY submissions, as indicated below. IPICS-related events planned for IPY include:

1. Searching for the longest possible ice core record. The oldest Antarctic ice core so far extends 800-900 kyr. Before this, Earth's climate had a 40 kyr glacial-interglacial periodicity. IPICS aims to find a 1.2 Myr record and help discover why the period changed. During IPY, initial survey work will occur as part of the TASTE-IDEA ice divides traverses, by French/Italian/Russian teams in the Dome C-North Vostok-Dome B region, by a Chinese team near Dome A, and by US-led radar and remote sensing teams. IPICS will collate results to recommend drilling sites.
2. Initiation of coring to recover the last interglacial and older ice from Greenland. The last interglacial was probably warmer than the present and is an analogue for an anthropogenically-warmed world. We need to learn about the behaviour of climate and the Greenland ice sheet during times of warmer climate. The oldest reliable core only partly penetrates the last interglacial. Drilling in northwest Greenland would start, and possibly finish, in IPY. Danish, US, French, Japanese, UK, Swiss, Swedish, and German groups have expressed interest, and others are expected to join. Note that while this effort is part of the IPICS agenda, it also falls under IPY lead project # 561 (Greenland’s Ice Sheet – reactions to past and present climate change), which will lead IPY efforts related to this element of IPICS.
3. Starting a detailed spatial network of deep and intermediate-depth Antarctic ice cores. The spatial pattern of change is key to climate dynamics. We have cores from central East Antarctica and from a few coastal regions, but additional data are needed from other key areas, including the northern part of Lake Vostok, coastal Antarctica, the Antarctic peninsula, and West Antarctica. New projects like the European drilling at Talos Dome (east Antarctica) will take place during IPY. These programs will provide a springboard for a larger effort to fully sample Antarctic spatial climate variability on all possible time scales.
5. The WAIS Divide Ice Core. This West Antarctic ice core will produce the best climate record covering the past 100,000 years, including highly resolved histories of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and millennial and shorter time-scale climate change in Antarctica. The main drilling starts during IPY, in the 2007/2008 Antarctic field season.
4. Late Holocene climate change. Future change can only be assessed in the context of natural climate variability. Highly resolved compilations of past global climate (timescale up to 2000 years) critically lack polar data. The SCAR project, ITASE, produced 250 cores that cover the last 250 years. Extending this time scale to the last millennium, and expanding the scope in the Arctic, are critical. IPY will engage all countries to complete work in Antarctica and continue the effort in the Arctic.
6. SOFIA (Search for the Oldest Firn Interstitial Air). SOFIA aims to obtain firn air records spanning more than the last 150 years, encompassing much of the period from the industrial revolution to the present day. Large firn air samples are critical for understanding this period of atmospheric history as they allow measurements (of trace species or isotopic ratios) that are otherwise impossible with ice core samples.

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