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More melt layers indicate warmer summer air temperatures. Melt layers are formed when the surface snow melts, releasing water to percolate down through the snow pack. This 19 cm long of GISP2 ice core from 1855 m depth shows annual layers in the ice. This section contains 11 annual layers with summer layers (arrowed) sandwiched between darker winter layers.
By looking at past concentrations of greenhouse gasses in layers in ice cores, scientists can calculate how modern amounts of carbon dioxide and methane compare to those of the past, and, essentially, compare past concentrations of greenhouse gasses to temperature. Ice cores have been drilled in ice sheets worldwide, but notably in Greenland and Antarctica[4, 5]. The thickness of the annual layers in ice cores can be used to derive a precipitation rate (after correcting for thinning by glacier flow). Past precipitation rates are an important palaeoenvironmental indicator, often correlated to climate change, and it’s an essential parameter for many past climate studies or numerical glacier simulations. The team were travelling across the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to study snow accumulation. Through analysis of ice cores, scientists learn about glacial-interglacial cycles, changing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and climate stability over the last 10,000 years. This picture shows a traversing field camp from December 2010.
The drill fluid used is normally a petroleum-derived liquid like kerosene.