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20 July, 2000

National Ice Core Laboratory

Gary spent the morning explaining the science involved in the project. He has developed instruments and techniques for taking extremely precise temperature measurements within an ice sheet. By analyzing the data Gary is able to reconstruct the climate history for that location going back thousands of years. He has used this method previously at the GISP2 borehole in Greenland and at Taylor Dome in Antarctica.

We made a visit to the National Ice Core Laboratory where the curator, Geoff Hargreaves, gave us a tour of the facility. Here they process cores taken from Greenland, Antarctica and other locations. Various properties of the ice yield clues about the Earth's past climates. The ice is stored and processed in large refrigerated rooms. We couldn't stay too long because even wearing an insulated jumpsuit, hat and gloves the lab was COLD!

My visit with Gary has been great. My excitement is building, as the adventure is just three months away. In a couple weeks I will visit Ed Waddington's lab at the University of Washington. There I will learn about ice dynamics from Bob Hawley, the other member of the project team.

The ice core storage room.

Gary and Geoff among the stacks of stored ice cores.

Geoff is holding the bottom section from the Vostok ice core. This core, from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, comes from a depth of 3,609 meters. It formed from snow that fell about 450,000 years ago!

The refrigerated lab where the ice cores are processed and analyzed.

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