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Climate Revealed in Ancient Ice

Ice Image

Air bubbles in ice, such as in this sample from a Greenland ice core, reveal climate clues for OSU Professor Ed Brook. Ancient air chemistry reveals how climate and CO2 trends have correlated in the past.

Polar ice holds the history of Earth’s climate. For 15 years, Ed Brook has been reading that record, one cylinder of frozen water at a time. Now he’s planning to drill for the oldest ice sample ever obtained. At 1.5 million years, it will set a new milestone for the field.

A renowned ice core expert, the OSU geosciences professor analyzes trace gases for clues to the causes and consequences of climate change over eons. For the International Polar Year, Brook is leading an international science team undertaking the first phase of an ambitious, decade–long initiative.

As co–chair of International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences, with Eric Wolff of the British Antarctic Survey, Brook has joined researchers from 19 nations to fill in data gaps, both recent and prehistoric. Project goals include collecting the record–breaking ancient ice core, drilling to bedrock in Greenland and sampling new sites across the Arctic and Antarctic.

"Ice cores are the cornerstones of global climate–change research," says Brook. "This project will set the stage for the next generation of research in this field, examining climate variability on time scales of decades to millions of years."

Ed Brook’s Web site
Department of Geosciences
OSU Foundation
National Science Foundation