The Ice Cores
Maybe the most difficult thing about ice cores comes after the actual drilling: then you then have to get them out and transport them long distances, and make sure they don’t melt. Otherwise, all that work was for nothing. Here are some images showing how we handle them initially. (Courtesy David Christenson/Freeport McMoRan)
Once removed from the drill, sections of core are enclosed in plastic bags, labeled with the relevant data on location and depth, and slipped into tubes.
Cores are stored in freezer boxes onsite, then slung by helicopter down the mountain.
The helicopter passes base camp, well below the summit, on its way down
The first cores arrive in the town of Tembagapura, and are loaded into insulated boxes, lined inside with frozen cold packs.
The boxes go into a big freezer Tembagapura
The boxes will remain in the freezer until we finish all the drilling. Then, they all go via freezer truck to another freezer in the lowlands until a flight is ready in the city of coastal Timika to fly them back to Jakarta. From there, if all goes well, the cores will be flown directly to Ohio State University for analysis and permanent storage.
The helipad team in Tembagapura. This whole operation would never take place without the constant support of these, and many other dedicated people.
The ice-core data is frequently cited as principal evidence to argue that CO2 is the earth’s main climate driver. It is, in a way, the jewel in the crown of the theory of man made global warming. But the ice-core data does not show that CO2 drives climate. It shows, very clearly, that variations in temperature precede rises in atmospheric CO2 – not the other way round. The two phenomena are divided by a time lag of several hundred years.