Ice and Climate

The researchers at the Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Ice and Climate are among the world's leaders when it comes to drilling ice cores though the more than three kilometre thick Greenlandic ice cap. The ice cap is formed by snow falling year after year and with time has been compresses into ice. By analysing the ice-cores, the researchers can get amazingly detailed knowledge about the whole glacial (the Ice Age) and back to the last warm interglacial period, called the Eemian.

The ice contains air-bubbles and impurities and every single ice layer reveals details about the climate of the year the snow fell. The temperature for each year can be derived from the oxygen composition of the ice. Acid reveals large volcanic eruptions and tiny ash particles can be used to identify which volcano erupted. Analyses of dust particles tell of strong Ice Age winds which carried with them sand from deserts in China or North America. Together these details paint a picture of the climate of the past.

The group has led the deep drillings through the Greenland ice cap in the DYE-3, GRIP and NorthGRIP projects. They also participate in the ice core drillings of the EPICA project in Antarctica. A new drilling project, NEEM, which stands for ‘North Eemian', started in the summer of 2007. The name refers to the purpose of the drilling, which is to bring ice from the last warm interglacial period, the Eemian. During the Eemian Greenland was a few degrees warmer than present, and the Eemian ice is especially interesting to study today, when we face global warming.