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Featured Research

Examining Frozen History

Source: KTVN News 2 Reno
Aired: 3/26/2013 
Keywords: dri, desert research institute, reno, rhodes, mcconnell 
Affiliation: DRI
Description: Scientists at Reno's Desert Research Institute began to finalize their seven-week, in- depth analysis of an artifact that dates back to the ice age. Here, inside what's called the  "Cold Lab,"  a 68-thousand year old ice core is about to give up more of the earth's secrets. Drilled from the deep at the antarctic ice sheet, this ancient artifact sits in a chemistry cold lab.at minus 15 degrees celcius. Mcconnell:  "The colder it is, the less it's changing, so we want to keep it as cold as possible."  It had an amazing journey. This one of a kind artifact took 8 years to extract and get here.the longest ice core ever brought to the U.S. Why is it here at dri? Rhodes:  "Because it has the best ice core lab for doing this type of processing in the U.S."  John:  "When snow fell where the ice core comes from, it did not melt. Iinstead the snow would be compressed into ice...year by year, layer by layer. From these layers they find out so many things, including a few surprises."  Mcconnell:  "A history of forest fire emissions in this ice core. Most of these fires would be from South America."  The ice core is lowered...to where the scientists scrape off a bit, which goes into a heated plate. The water goes to the chemist, who determines the ancient atmosphere from the air bubbles that were in the ice. The ultimate goal is to help us understand why climate can change so abruptly, and how it could unfold in the future. Already, ice cores like this have provided stark detail, into how fast global warming is happening. Rhodes:  "It scares me, because even though we've had a really fast rate of change in the past, it's nothing compared to what we have been doing to the climate."  

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