A team of Italian, French, and Norwegian researchers are currently in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago to save samples of ancient ice before they melt away due to climate change. The eight specialists on this mission have set up camp at an altitude of 1,100 meters on the crevasse-ridden Holtedahlfonna ice field and plan to start drilling on Tuesday. The goal is to extract ice in a series of tubes from as far as 125 meters below the surface, containing frozen geochemical traces dating back three centuries. One set of the ice tubes extracted will be used for immediate analysis while a second set will be sent to Antarctica for storage in an “ice memory sanctuary” under the snow, where the samples will be preserved for future generations of scientists. The team will work for three weeks in temperatures as low as minus 25C, cutting and pulling out a series of cylinders of ice 10cm wide. The 700,000-euro ($760,000) mission, partly funded by the Italian research ministry, follows a series of earlier ice core extractions by the foundation, including operations in the Alps and the Andes. Further core-drilling missions are planned in the coming years in Tajikistan and the Himalayas.
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