The future of ice coring: International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS)

Pages News, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp 6-10, 2006

E. J. Brook
Dept. of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA.
E. Wolff
British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK.
D. Dahl-Jensen
Ice and Climate, The Niels Bohr Institute, Juliane Maries Vej 30, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
H. Fischer
Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany.
E.J. Steig
Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.

Introduction: Goals of IPICS
Ice cores provide information about past climate and environmental conditions on timescales from decades to hundreds of millennia, and direct records of the composition of the atmosphere. As such, they are cornerstones of global change research. For example, ice cores play a central role in showing how closely climate and greenhouse gas concentrations were linked in the past, and in demonstrating that very abrupt climate switches can occur. With the completion of major projects in Greenland and Antarctica over the last 15 years, the international ice coring community is planning for the next several decades. The costs and scope of future work create the need for coordinated international collaboration. Developing this international collaboration is the charge of IPICS, International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences, a planning group currently composed of ice coring scientists, engineers, and drillers from 18 nations. Two international meetings in 2004 and 2005 (Brook and Wolff, 2006) lead to an ambitious four-element framework that both extends the ice core record in time and enhances spatial resolution. The four projects were defi ned as: 1) A deep ice coring program in Antarctica that extends through the mid-Pleistocene transition, a time period where Earth's climate shifted from 40,000 year to 100,000 year cycles. 2) A deep ice core in Greenland recovering an intact record of the last interglacial period. 3) A bipolar network of ice core records spanning approximately the last 40,000 years. 4) A global network of ice core records spanning the last 2,000 years. A fi fth, and critical, element of IPICS is the development of advanced ice core drilling technology.