PRESS RELEASE: New Ice Core Drilled in Swiss Alps

A new ice core was drilled ~73 m to bedrock at the Colle Gnifetti (CG) glacier saddle of the Monte Rosa Massif (4450 m.a.s.l.) on the Swiss-Italian border led by researchers from the Institut für Umweltphysik, University of Heidelberg (Germany) and the Physics Institute, University of Bern (Switzerland). Evaluation of this unique archive will also involve researchers from the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past, Harvard University and the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine (USA), Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Bremerhaven (Germany) and the Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg (Switzerland).  A 7-person team recovered the ice core over the course of one week.  It will be analyzed using a host of technologies not available when previous CG cores were drilled and featuring a path-breaking collaboration of humanists and scientists.

To this end the University of Maine and Harvard University will contribute ultra-high-resolution measurements of dust and other impurities using state-of-the-art laser based technology developed in the Climate Change Institute’s W.M. Keck Laser Ice Facility and a new historical geodatabase of the climate of medieval Europe from written sources. The resulting record may allow the first detailed, ice core-based assessment of human-climate interactions during the first millennium AD. The new technology is minimally destructive and will allow the permanent preservation of the new ice core record. The project is supported by a grant from the Arcadia Foundation.


Photo Credit: Nicole Spaulding, University of Maine