Inside the Antarctic

Inside the Antarctic

Antarctica is an extremely cold continent at the South Pole.  It is covered by an ice cap with bright light that can blind the eyes. The ice of this continent has been found to be a calendar of climate change which has recorded green house gases and changes in temperature even before the start ice age. The drillings going on there helps the scientist to find the answers to the future of global climate change. There is no known knowledge on the exact, precise and immediate effects of this climate change to the ocean currents, precipitation rate, winds and cloud formation. It is from this reason that scientists from Wisconsin university drilling are trying to understand the relationship between green house gases and temperatures. Scientists chose a place 885 miles from USA base in the coast of Antarctica to be their drilling site. This place snows 10 times more than other place in the Antarctica and it’s therefore, the perfect place to drill and collect samples for analysis.

Looking at the surface there are few activities taking place, but underground there is a drilling project worth 8 millions dollars. The drill plunges thousands of feet under ground to extract a marrow of gases and isotopes for analysis. They extract a ten foot long cylinder of compressed ice crystals that contain trapped air and trace chemicals. The cylinders are inspected for cracks, spalls and chips. They are then prepared for analysis by 27 independent laboratories in the USA and Europe to check the presence of different trace chemicals related to climate change. Cylinders to be shipped to USA for analysis are cut into three foot long for easy handling.

The process of ice formation starts with pilling of snow flakes every year which form layers of strata. During this process of ice formation storms washes out dirt, trace chemicals and deposit them on the snow pack year after year millennia after millennia. These cylinders have ancient trapped air of green house gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide all unchanged from the day snow formed. The real impact of green house gases ha snot been established therefore, more informed research has to be carried out. Handling and transportation of these snow cylinders to USA is a challenge. Contaminations and melting should be avoided at all cost. When these snow cylinders melts trapped gases will disappear. These scientists work in the coldest place on Earth, as they handle the ice, they keep an extra pair of gloves warming in an oven, so that, when their work gloves freeze they can put on the warm pair.

From the start of this work they've packed up about 4,500 ft. of ice cores for shipment back to the United States. This is put onto the air craft and air lifted to the Antarctica coast where they are shipped across the tropics to California. Loaded to trucks and driven across the desert to National Ice Core Laboratory in Denver Colorado where scientists slice them into small samples for analysis in laboratories across USA and Europe.

The explorers who sailed off the edge of the map during the early times found this continent. And in their view, this continent doest have normal rules of time and temperature as other continents.  In Antarctica the ice seems a living presence while the wind that rubs against it gives it a voice. It is a voice of experience that should be listened to.

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