Ice cores from two million years ago provides insights into ancient climate

Team of researchers at the Princeton University have discovered 2 million year old ice cores from Antarctica. The cores were collected from the remote Alan Hills of Antarctica. These provide a direct observation of Earth’s climate during the time of furred early ancestors of us modern humans.

Sources report the gas bubbles trapped in the cores are the oldest and contain samples of carbon dioxide, methane, along with other gases which also provide insights into the prehistoric atmospheric conditions and temperatures.

According to first author Yuzhen Yan, ice flows and compresses over a period of time and continual ice cores age back to 800,000 years ago. Based on sources, although the cores do not convey the entire picture, it gives an overall idea about the history.

“You don’t get a sense of how things changed continually, but you get an idea of big changes over time,” commented Yan.

Earlier research also discovered a 1 million year old ice core from the Alan Hills. It was claimed to be the oldest ice core ever recorded in 2015.

Experts allege, the ability to measure atmospheric composition directly, is the biggest advantage of ice cores. This is also one of the reasons why people spend years together in procuring ice cores from isolated places.

The recently discovered ice cores help in highlighting questions about the current glacial cycle. The last ice age occurred due to decline in the atmospheric carbon dioxide. This also formed the link between carbon dioxide and global temperatures.

Figures estimate the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to be 400 parts-per-million (ppm), which is 100 ppm greater than the highest levels of the 40k world. Yan confirms that the carbon dioxide level has not been so in the past 2 million years.

Carbon dioxide plays a major role in the current world. Experts believe if we need to discover the geologic past for an analogy of the current scenario, one has to go beyond 2 million years to understand it.