In Antarctica, a climate change time machine

Scientists are drilling deep underground in Antarctica to learn more about the ancient environment and use that knowledge to understand global climate change.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

We know that greenhouse gases are rising, and we know that we've recently seen the warmest average temperatures on record.

It's called global climate change, and a location about 600 miles from the South Pole is said to be the best place to study it.

In a TED 2010 video from Oxford, England, Wall Street Journal science columnist Robert Lee Hotz describes a research project at WAIS Divide, Antarctica, where a team of scientists is drilling into 10,000-year-old ice to extract historical environmental data.

At a place where ice and snow accumulates 10 times faster than anywhere else on the continent, scientists are working underground with an $8 million drill assembly that they're using to go back in time by analyzing the trace chemicals in cylinders of ice.

"Each cylinder is a parfait of time," Hotz said. "This ice formed as snow 15,800 years ago, when our ancestors were dogging themselves with paint and considering the radical new technology of the alphabet."

Here's the video:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards