History of ice core drilling in Greenland – University of Copenhagen

Forward this page to a friend Resize Print Bookmark and Share

Centre for Ice and Climate > Research > Drilling and analysing ice cores > History of ice core dr...

History of ice core drilling in Greenland

The very beginning

The first ice core drilling in Greenland was carried out in 1955 by the U. S. Army Snow, Ice and Permafrost Research Establishment (SIPRE). The drilling took place at Site 2 and was part of the preparations for the International Geophysical Year in 1957. With the Site 2 ice core Chester C. Langway from SIPRE initiated the modern era of multi disciplinary ice core studies including detailed isotope profiles.

Drilling to bedrock

The first ice core drilling through the Greenland ice cap was performed from 1963 to 1966 at the American subsurface military facility Camp Century. Stable isotope measurements revealed a climate curve reaching far into the glacial. Motivated by this success, a new drill was developed and used to retrieve a more than 2 km long ice core from the DYE-3 drill site in Southern Greenland.
Read more about the development of deep drilling from the very beginning until the end of the 1980s. 

The central Greenland ice cores

In 1992-93, two parallel deep drilling projects were completed. Located just 30 km apart near the Summit of the ice cap, the mainly European GRIP project and the American GISP2 project each retrieved 3 km long ice cores. The ice cores provided outstanding data of past climate about 105,000 years back in time, but comparisons of the two ice cores made it clear that the stratigraphies of the bottom 300 m of both cores were disturbed. Therefore, neither record provides the possibility to study the climate of the previous interglacial period, the Eemian.
Read more about the central Greenland projects GRIP and GISP2.

The search for Eemian ice

The Eemian period is highly interesting, because its climate is somewhat similar to the climate, scientists predict for the future. The lack of undisturbed Eemian ice in the Summit ice cores motivated a search for ice core drill sites which will enable retrieval of undisturbed ice from the Eemian period. The NGRIP project partially accomplished this, and the main objective of the NEEM project (started in 2007) is to obtain a complete Eemian record.
Read more about the NGRIP and NEEM projects and the search for Eemian ice.