15 April 2011

Centre for Ice and Climate receives large new grant from the Danish National Research Foundation

"We have just received the good news that the Centre for Ice and Climate will continue for a second centre period with a grant of 55 million kroner from the Danish National Research Foundation”, announces a very happy Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, professor and leader of the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, professor and leader of the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen

The Centre for Ice and Climate is a world leader in the drilling of ice cores through the three-kilometer thick Greenland ice cap. By analysing the ice cores researchers get detailed information about the climate of the past and an understanding of the processes that affect the climate of the future.

Top international research

The Danish National Research Foundation has decided to continue funding the Centre of Excellence, which was established in 2007. The original grant was for a 5-year period and the centre has now undergone a thorough mid-term evaluation by a number of international experts.

"The centre received very good reviews from the international evaluation panel, and in general it can be said that the centre is outstanding – not just in Denmark, but also internationally”, explains Thomas Sinkjær, who is the director of the Danish National Research Foundation.

The centre can now continue for an additional 5-year period from April 2012 – April 2017. Both the research and the scientific staff are very international and approximately half of the centre’s 50 staff come from abroad.

"It is incredibly inspiring to have the opportunity to have many young international researchers (PhD students and postdocs) to perform state-of-the-art research. That we are also heading up the ice core drilling NEEM on the Greenland ice cap gives us the best opportunities in the world”, explains Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, who leads the research centre.

There is great prestige in being a Centre of Excellence.

"One of the effects of being a Centre of Excellence is that our research environment can be so large and dynamic that it can attract financing from the EU in particular, but also from other foundations for the research projects themselves”, explains Sune Olander Rasmussen, who is the centre coordinator for Ice and Climate.

Past and future climate

The current major research project is the NEEM ice core drilling project in the northwestern part of Greenland. Here researchers are drilling ice cores up through the 2½ kilometer thick ice cap.

Using newly developed measuring equipment they can analyse the ice cores while they are still in the field and get detailed information about the climate of the past back to around 140,000 years ago, when the Earth had a warm period which was naturally a few degrees warmer than now.

The data can then be combined with climate models, which allows you to understand the mechanisms that have an impact on the climate of the future and provide a basis to better predict future global climate change.