Wednesday, December 5, 2007

International Polar Day - Ice Sheets

Ever heard of International Polar Days? They are a response from the IPY organization to journalists and teachers looking for ways to talk about the International Polar Year. During IP Days, there will be press releases, access to experts and to researchers in the field, images
and videos etc.

The next IP Day will be focused on Ice Sheets, and will occur on December 13th.

Here are some interesting ice-sheet facts:

  • there are only two ice sheets on the planet: one in Greenland, the other (you guessed it) in Antarctica;
  • cores drilled in ice-sheets are records of past climate; the longest record comes from a core drilled at Dome C (near Concordia) by the EPICA project;
  • there is a network of lakes under a large part of the Antarctic ice-sheet; the largest one is Lake Vostok; liquid water is thought to move between them relatively rapidly.
There's a lot more to learn about ice-sheets than is already known. For example: how do they work? How are they formed? What might the effects of global warming be? Are sub-glacial lakes really interconnected? There are over 20 different IPY projects and experiments focused on the ice-sheets. You can find a list here. Some of them, including the Norwegian-US Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica, keep blogs and web journals. As Antarctic field season is getting under way right now, these are worth reading.

Will there be an IP-Day on my kind of research? Probably not. The one that comes closest will be held on March 13th 2008, and will concern the changing Earth, ice, climate, oceans, paleo-climate and Earth history. With all the climate change angles possible on this IP-Day, I fear any mention of Solid Earth history will be pretty feeble, but I'll do my best ...

Keep up to date with the latest developments at

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