NGRIP 2004 season release,
7. August 2004:
Secrets from underneath the middle of the 3 km thick Greenland Ice sheet.
Remnants of plants found.
During the summer of 2003 a team of international researchers at NGRIP
reached bedrock at a depth of 3085 m. The ice core itself will tell us,
year by year, a climate history reaching 123.000 years back in time.
Reaching bedrock, reddish basal water flooded the lowest 45 m of the bore
hole but luckily the drill was recovered from the bore hole with some of
the refrozen water hanging to the drill. The Greenland ice sheet ice is
melting from the bottom of the ice sheet at this site due to high
geothermal heat and the water is running in channels in and under the ice.
The water is part of a sub-glacial water system that has been isolated from
the surface for perhaps several million years. Because the refrozen water,
that was hanging out of the drill, most likely had become contaminated by
being pulled up though the drill liquid, we decided to visit the NGRIP site
again during the summer 2004 to drill the frozen basal water in the lowest
45 m of the bore hole.
This year we drilled down into the reddish refrozen basal water and
retrieved the most exciting red ice cores. The ice is full of reddish
particles and lumps of reddish material and has a very high content of
trapped gas. We are very excited and eager to bring the refrozen basal
water home to research laboratories to study possible contents of organic
material from an environment before ice covered Greenland several million
years ago - and who knows - can exotic life forms still exist under the ice?
After recovering 50 kg of the refrozen basal water the drill diverged from
the old borehole, filled with refrozen basal water and went into the
glacier ice again. Great was our surprise when, at 3085 m, we did not reach
basal water again. The drill continued to drill glacier ice cores down to
3091m - with no water entering the hole. Our new hole is just 50 cm next to
the one from last year, but apparently it missed a water channel. This
time, reaching bedrock frozen reddish mud was recovered together with
several centimeter sized fragments of organic material looking like a pine
needles or pieces of bark. There is a big possibility that this material is
several million years old - from a time where trees covered Greenland. The
presence of plant material under the ice indicates, that the Greenland ice
sheet formed relatively fast, as a slowly growing glacier would have
flushed or pushed these light particles away.
We are excited - what will our new findings tell us on the past climate end
From NordGRIP camp
Project leader Dorthe Dahl-Jensen
Professor, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen
J.P. Steffensen, Field Operations Manager
Box 12, KISS,
Tel +299 84 11 51
Photographs of the NGRIP ice coring project are available from the NGRIP
home page www.glaciology.gfy.ku.dk/ngrip or by
contacting the Danish logistic office Lars Berg Larsen - tel: +(45) 35 32
05 20, email: email@example.com, International press, please see contacts
listed at the end of the release.
Notes to editors
The high resolution Climate Record of the Northern Hemisphere back into the
last Interglacial Period is published in the journal Nature on 9. September 2004.
NGRIP (North GReenland Ice core Project) is an international project with
participants from 9 nations, Denmark, Germany, Japan, USA, Switzerland,
France, Sweden, Belgium and Iceland. The NGRIP Steering Committee with
members from the participating nations is the coordinating body. NGRIP is
funded by the participating countries.
The ice cores drilled are cylinders of ice 10 cm in diameter that are
brought to the surface in lengths of 3.5 m at a time. The specialized NGRIP
deep ice drill is developed by the researchers and it has been used to
drill several deep ice cores.
Snow falls on the surface of the interior of an ice sheet every year and
since there is no melting, they form layers that gradually become covered
by the following years of snowfall. With depth the layers are compressed
into ice and sink down in the Ice Sheet. Pockets of air and impurities
from the atmosphere become trapped in the ice. At NGRIP the annual layers
reach 123.000 years back in time and analysis of the chemical and physical
properties of the ice and the trapped air shows how the climate changed
Every year a team of international researchers spent months in the camp on
the Greenland ice sheet. The camp is 1000 km from the Greenland Airports
and is serviced by ski equipped air craft. The team of scientists drill the
ice cores and analyze the ice cores in subsurface trenches where the
temperature is -30 deg C. The international team also cuts small samples of
the ice cores that are analyzed at research laboratories around the world.
The 7 million Euro project is funded by the participating nations.
For more information contact:
Regi Lorrain: +32 2 650 227, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen: +45 35 32 05 56, email@example.com,
Sigfus J Johnsen: +45 35 32 05 58,firstname.lastname@example.org
Joergen Peder Steffensen: +45 35 32 05 57, email@example.com
Jean Jouzel +33 1 39 25 58 16, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Dominique Raynaud: +33 4 76 82 42 52, email@example.com
Heinz Miller: +49 471 4831 1210, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Hubertus Fischer: +49 471 4831 1174, email@example.com
Arny Sveinbjoernsdottir: +345 1 694 784, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yoshiyuki Fujii: +81 3 3962 4742, email@example.com
Margaretha Hansson: +46 86 74 78 65, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Stoecker: +41 31 631 44 64, email@example.com
James W. C. White: +1 303 492 5494, James.White@spot.colorado.edu