South Pole Ice Core

On January 23, 2016, the South Pole Ice Core (SPICEcore) project reached its final depth of 1751 meters (5745 feet; 1.1 miles).

The stable isotope, aerosol, and atmospheric gas records in ice cores provide exceptional archives of past climate. Supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs, a new 1751-meter long ice core was recovered at the South Pole, extending more than 54,000 years into the past (Winski and others, 2019). The ice core was drilled during the 2014-2015 field season (0 to 736 meters) and 2015-2016 field season (736 to 1751 meters) using the new U.S. Intermediate Depth Drill. The South Pole site preserves unique climate records by combining cold temperatures typical of East Antarctica with a relatively high accumulation rate due to West Antarctic influence. The South Pole ice core extends the international array of ice cores used to investigate environmental change since the last glacial/interglacial transition. The scientific goal is to assess and understand changes in atmospheric chemistry, climate, and biogeochemistry.

Recent Publications

  • Buizert C, Fudge TJ, Roberts WHG, Steig EJ, Sherriff-Tadano S, Ritz C, Lefebvre E, Edwards J, Kawamura K, Oyabu I, Motoyama H, Kahle EC, Jones TR, Abe-Ouchi A, Obase T, Martin C, Corr H, Severinghaus JP, Beaudette R, Epifanio JA, Brook EJ, Martin K, Chappellaz J, Aoki S, Nakazawa T, Sowers TA, Alley RB, Ahn J, Sigl M, Severi M, Dunbar NW, Svensson A, Fegyveresi JM, He C, Liu Z, Zhu J, Otto-Bliesner BL, Lipenkov VY, Kageyama M, Schwander J (2021) Antarctic surface temperature and elevation during the Last Glacial Maximum. Science, 372(6546), 1097-1101. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abd2897
  • Kahle EC, Steig EJ, Jones TR, Fudge TJ, Koutnik MR, Morris VA, Vaughn BR, Schauer AJ, Stevens CM, Conway H, Waddington ED, Buizert C, Epifanio J, White JWC (2021) Reconstruction of temperature, accumulation rate, and layer thinning from an ice core at South Pole, using a statistical inverse method. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 126, e2020JD033300. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JD033300
  • Winski DA, Osterberg EC, Kreutz KJ, Ferris DG, Cole‐Dai J, Thundercloud Z, Huang J, Alexander B, Jaeglé L, Kennedy JA, Larrick C, Kahle EC, Steig EJ, Jones TR (2021) Seasonally‐Resolved Holocene Sea Ice Variability Inferred from South Pole Ice Core Chemistry. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2020GL091602. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL091602
  • Steig EJ, Jones TR, Schauer AJ, Kahle EC, Morris VA, Vaughn BH, Davidge L, White JWC (2021) Continuous-Flow Analysis of δ17O, δ18O, and δD of H2O on an Ice Core from the South Pole. Frontiers in Earth Science, 9:640292, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2021.640292
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Additional Reading

Southern Ocean Sea Ice Cover Has Gradually Grown Over The Past 10,000 Years - A Long-Term View Of Sea Ice Extent Gives Researchers Insight Into The Effects Of Climate Change
The Antarctic Sun
June 14, 2021
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South Pole and East Antarctica warmer than previously thought during last ice age, two studies show
University of Washington News
June 3, 2021
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Getting to the Bottom of SPICECORE – Researchers drill deep into the ice beneath the South Pole to sample Earth's ancient atmosphere
The Antarctic Sun
April 12, 2016
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Going deep – Drilling project to retrieve longest ice core ever from South Pole
The Antarctic Sun
March 26, 2015
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Scientists drilling first deep ice core at the South Pole
University of Washington News
January 20, 2015
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SPICE-ing it up – New project plans to retrieve South Pole ice core beginning in 2014-15
The Antarctic Sun
March 8, 2013
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