ANTARCTIC ICE SANCTUARY

  • Italian, French and Norwegian researchers are in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago to preserve crucial ice records for analysing past environmental conditions.
  • Scientists camped in the Arctic are set to start drilling to save samples of ancient ice for analysis before the frozen layers melt away due to climate change.
  • They will extract ice in a series of tubes from as far as 125 metres (137 yards) below the surface, containing frozen geochemical traces dating back three centuries.

Aim:

To preserve crucial ice records for analysing past environmental conditions by shipping them all the way to the Antarctic for storage.

Need:

  • Human-caused carbon emissions have warmed the planet by 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century.
  • Glaciers at high latitudes, such as those in the Arctic, have begun to melt at a high rate.
  • Studies indicate that the Arctic is warming between two and four times faster than the global average.
  • Analysis of chemicals in deep “ice cores” provides scientists with valuable data about past environmental conditions.

Concerns:

  • Meltwater is leaking down and altering the geochemical records preserved in ancient ice beneath.
  • A study said that half of the Earth’s 215,000 mountain glaciers are expected to disappear by the end of this century due to climate change caused by humans even if the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is reached.

Antarctic ‘ice sanctuary’

  • One set of the ice tubes extracted will be used for immediate analysis while a second set will be sent to Antarctica for storage in an “ice memory sanctuary” under the snow, where the samples will be preserved for future generations of scientists.
  • It will be stored at a Franco-Italian Antarctic research station.
  • They will be stored under the snow at minus 50C, where no power is needed to keep them cool.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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