Ice cores from the Polar Regions serve as one of our best sources of data on past climate, because they are unique in combining two key criteria: (1) They provide a continuous record ranging back up to hundreds of thousands of years, and (2) they have a very high resolution compared to most other data on past climate. The setback is of course, that it is no easy task to acquire several kilometres of continuous ice core right in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet or Antarctica. A major operation like this requires many months of planning - organizing people, logistics, and permissions, with backups and redundancies that try and take in all eventualities. Often a dozen or more countries are involved, providing people and funding for the operations. For many years, Denmark has held a key role in these operations and has led numerous drilling expeditions to the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Read more on the following pages about how the projects are carried through.
Kangerlussuaq at the Greenland west coast is the logistical focal point, from which ski-equipped Hercules air craft take people and cargo to the drill site. Read more
The camp consists of buildings for living quarters, sleeping tents, and subsurface trenches for drilling and analysis of ice cores. Read more
Living and working on the ice cap is a special experience due to the remoteness, and because the sun does not set for months. Read more
The main purpose of the field campaign is to drill a continuous ice core down to bedrock and analyse the ice core, but there are also many associated projects that use the camp facilities. These may include GPS measurements, seismic data collection, radar measurements, weather observations, micrometeorite sampling, studies of surface layers by snow pit studies, shallow ice core drilling (down to c. 100 m) and many other activities.
Ice Core Drilling Projects