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Ice Is Melting At Arctic's Northernmost Research Station

In April, researchers drilled into the Dovrebreen glacier in Svalbard. They were aiming to extract 2 Arctic ice cores from 125 metres deep, which would provide a picture of the planet’s atmosphere 300 years ago but 25 metres down, the ice gave way to a big pool of water.

We were really shocked because we could not expect so much water here at such an altitude. This is one of the highest glaciers in Svalbard,” said Jacopo Gabrieli, Glaciologist, Institute of Polar Science.

Ny-Alesund is a research station in the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic. For 40 years, scientists have been collecting climate data to gain crucial insights into how global warming affects the Arctic. The Arctic ice cores are being collected for the Ice Memory Foundation. The cores act like a ‘very old book’ in which we can read the planet's history. They preserve gases and other particles in the atmosphere from when the snow fell and turned to ice.

The Dovrebreen glacier is a perilous 3-hour drive from the station by snowmobile. The last time scientists drilled there, in 2005, the core was completely frozen. The high elevation and cool air should have made the chances of an intact core more likely, but they encountered a very different story this time.

The Arctic is warming 4 times faster than the rest of the world. In Svalbard, temperatures are rising at roughly 7 times the global rate. The hot weather brings polar bears closer to the station by destroying their hunting grounds. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, we need to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 nearly.

Topics:
Climate Action
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