The search for Eemian ice – University of Copenhagen

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Centre for Ice and Climate > Research > Drilling and analysing ice cores > History of ice core drilling in Greenland > The search for Eemian ice

The search for Eemian ice

The search for Eemian ice

The lack of undisturbed Eemian ice in the summit area of the Greenland ice sheet prompted a search for a drill site where deep layers were undisturbed. From radio echo sounding measurements a site 320 km NNW of the summit was selected for the North GReenland Ice core Project (NGRIP)

A new deep drill was developed for the NGRIP drilling based on the design of the drill that successfully penetrated the northern Greenland Hans Tausen ice cap during the summer of 1995. The NGRIP project commenced in 1996 and lasted until 2004 when bedrock was reached. As predicted, undisturbed layers extended very deep down in the ice sheet at NGRIP (in fact all the way to bedrock), but due to unforeseen melting at the bedrock only the last part of the Eemian was retrieved; the older ice had simply melted away.

The goal of retrieving a complete Eemian ice core profile from Greenland has, however, not been abandoned. New radio echo sounding profiles have been used to identify a drill site with undisturbed deep layers, but without significant basal melting. In 2007 equipment was moved from NGRIP to the new drill site called NEEM (North EEMian). In 2008, the NEEM camp was established and the pilot hole was drilled, and in 2009 the deep drilling will start using new and more environmentally friendly techniques that have been tested during the 2006 Flade Isblink field campaign in NE Greenland. The NEEM project will continue until 2011, but it is expected that bedrock will be reached during the summer of 2010.

The traverse

Movement of equipment from NGRIP to NEEM.


Read more about NGRIP and the NGRIP home page (page no longer updated, opens in new window)
Read more about the Flade Isblink field campaign (page no longer updated, opens in new window)
Read more about the NEEM project