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HomePoliticsIn a race to conserve the history of the climate, scientists are...

In a race to conserve the history of the climate, scientists are saving ancient Arctic ice

The sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean and its surroundings is known as the Arctic ice pack. Ice goes through a predictable seasonal cycle in which it melts in the spring and summer, declines until mid-September, then rises in the fall and winter months.

According to NASA, September Arctic Sea ice is now shrinking at a rate of 12.6% per decade, compared to its average extent during the period from 1981 to 2010.

Eight researchers from France, Italy, and Norway camped in the Svalbard archipelago of Norway in March and April, enduring storms and mishaps to preserve vital ice records that can be used to analyze the Earth’s climate in the past and map the catastrophic effects that human activity is having on it right now.

The Ice Memory Foundation team extracted three huge tubes of glacier ice on Svalbard.

Experts warn that as global temperatures rise, meltwater is leaking into ancient ice and risks destroying the geochemical records it contains before scientists can collect the data.

The first issue was the weather when the Ice Memory crew set up camp in March on Holtedahlfonna, one of the tallest and most northerly glaciers in the Arctic. Strong winds caused the temperature to drop to -40C instead of the anticipated -25C (-13C), which caused a delay in drilling. After that, water from the melting glacier surged into the 24.5-meter (80-foot) hole they had just drilled in the ice.

When drilling resumed, the researchers succeeded in extracting three ice cores 50-75 metres long.

Human-caused carbon emissions have warmed the planet by 1.15 degrees Celsius since industrialization, powered by fossil fuels, began in the 19th century. Studies indicate that the Arctic is warming between two and four times faster than the global average.

Director of Ice Memory Anne-Catherine Ohlmann emphasized that “if we lose archives like this, we will lose the memory of human alteration of the climate.” And “we will also lose crucial information for future scientists and policymakers, who will have to make decisions for the well-being of society.”

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