News from the Columbia Climate School

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Drilling the Glacier to Bedrock

Yesterday we completed our first ice core at the Northwall Firn Glacier, down to bedrock, penetrating 30 meters through the glacier, until we hit bottom. The ice seems to contain visible layers all the way down–a sign that yearly accumulations have been preserved, instead of melding into each other. This means we should be able to extract a good climate record from this ice. There also appears to be some organic matter near the bottom, which could be carbon-14 dated to establish age.

The first 23 meters of core were immediately slung out by helicopter, stored in a special box, and delivered to a freezer in Tembagapura, the nearest town down the mountain.

Today, the team completed another 18 meters of coring in a second location near to the first core. (We drill two cores near each other so that we have duplicates with which to verify our data.)   We hope to fly more ice out tomorrow, pending good weather.

Photos here courtesy of David Christenson/Freeport McMoRan.

The ice drill is in the tall tent to right; you can see the pipes we use, just outside.
The ice drill is in the tall tent to right; you can see the pipes we use, just outside.
Fueling the drilling generator
Fueling the drilling generator
Our camp between the two domes of the Northwall Firn Glacier
Our camp between the two domes of the Northwall Firn Glacier
Diesel powers the generators—but the cook fuels the camp
Diesel powers the generators—but the cook fuels the camp
Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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