The Polarstern ice breaker of the government-funded Alfred Wegener Institute is now returning from a 7-month long expedition to the Antarctic, putting 37,000 nautical miles behind it. A total of 150 scientists from 15 countries have taken part in the Antarctic research expedition. here
Onboard in the ship’s cargo bays are 1000 meters of sediment cores, weighing 11 tonnes in total. These cores will now allow the researchers to extract climate information for the period from 400,000 to 4 million years ago.
There’s already considerable knowlege going back about 600,000 years.
But beyond that it starts to get awfully fuzzy. We do know that it has been trending colder over the last 5 million years.
The period from 400 thousand to 4 million years back is not well-researched, and so the sediment cores will certainly deliver key information on how the climate developed in leading up to the periodic ice ages, clues about ice behaviour, and ocean currents. Surely it’ll take some time to extract the data and digest them. We’re certainly looking forward to the first results.
Normally the AWI provides a translation of their press releases in English. I expect one will be out shortly.