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In the Arctic ice, a race against time to save the memory of the climate

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A team of researchers begins drilling on Tuesday in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard in Norway. Their mission: to collect crucial climate data from the ice before it disappears under the effect of climate change.

In search of climate memory: a team of scientists will begin drilling the ice of the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard on Tuesday April 4 in a race against time to collect centuries of climatic and environmental data before they disappeared under the effect of global warming, announced on Monday the foundation ice-memory.

“Glaciers at high latitudes, like those in the Arctic, have begun to melt at high speed. We want to recover and preserve, for future generations of scientists, these extraordinary records of our planet’s climate before all the information that they contain are completely lost,” said Carlo Barbante, director of the Institute of Polar Sciences of the Italian National Research Council and vice-president of the Foundation, in a press release.

The eight scientists from France, Italy and Norway, a drilling specialist and a mountain guide will bring back from this region, which is warming up significantly faster than the global average, two ice cores 125 meters long. One will soon be analyzed and the other kept in Antarctica for future generations, following a real challenge to cold chain logistics.

The glaciological community “today sees its raw material disappearing forever from the face of the planet. Our responsibility as glaciologists of this generation is to ensure that we preserve a little bit of it,” said , Monday, to AFP the president of Ice Memory, Jérôme Chappellaz.

Three hundred years of climate history

The team set up camp 1,100 meters above sea level in the endless whiteness of the Holtedahlfonna Icefield dotted with perilous crevasses.

There, in temperatures fluctuating between -25°C and -5°C, she will work for about twenty days, patiently harvesting the precious translucent cylinders about ten centimeters in diameter, in sections of one meter each.

The sections intended for posterity, carrying in their strata and bubbles of air 300 years of climate, environmental and pollution history, will reach the Franco-Italian base of Concordia in Antarctica.

>> Read also: The explosion of storms in the Arctic, a sign of “accelerating global warming”

A snow cave has been prepared to accommodate them with other core samples taken from around the world, at a natural temperature of around -50°C on average.

Launched in 2015, the Franco-Italian initiative Ice Memory has already sampled in the Alps, the Andes, the Caucasus, the Altai and intends to do so in all on twenty sites for twenty years.

The Svalbard mission, with an overall budget of 700,000 euros, is financed by the Italian Ministry of University and Research, the participating scientific institutions and the Ice Memory Foundation, itself financed by sponsorship, specifies the Foundation. .

With AFP

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