Ice core

A rod of ice can be really quite valuable.

This is because the ice masses of Greenland and Antarctica number among the most important climate archives on earth. In order to access the knowledge from this archive, deep holes are drilled into the ice with great effort and cores are removed. Similar to the annual growth rings of a tree, new layers form in the ice year after year. The changing climatic conditions and environmental influences leave behind specific compositions and structures of snow and the resulting ice. By evaluating ice cores, (palaeo)climatology – the science of the emergence of the climate and its changes – has thus been able to prove that the industrial age has led to the highest CO2 concentration in the atmosphere in 800,000 years.

The ice of the glaciers in the highlands is also important for investigating the present-day human-induced influences on the environment and the climate change these trigger. On the one hand, this is because it represents a reservoir of changing air compositions and pollutant loads, and, on the other, because the glacial masses have shrunk massively in recent decades as a consequence of global warming. Thus, the calving fronts of the glaciers – the area of a glacier where it breaks down piece by piece and melts into water – have at the same time become a visual front for social enlightenment about climate change.


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