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International Ice Core Data Cooperative


The International Ice Core Data Cooperative was established in 1996, as a means to facilitate storage, retrieval and communication of ice core and related glaciological/glaciochemical data. Establishment of the IICDC, a joint effort of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) and the WDC-A for Paleoclimatology, received overwhelming support at a meeting of the Past Global Changes division of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP - PAGES), held in Bern, Switzerland in 1995.

For information on submitting data to the Data Cooperative see: Submitting Data.
To download ice core data see Current Holdings.

Ice Core Drilling Projects

Drilling into polar ice sheets was first accomplished in 1956, just prior to the International Geophysical Year, at Site 2, northwest Greenland. The first ice core to reach bedrock was drilled at Camp Century, Greenland in 1966. The Greenland Ice Sheet was drilled again to bedrock at Dye 3 in 1981, as part of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP), and at the Renland site in 1987. The European Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) reached 3028.6 meters at the Greenland summit on July 12th 1992. The Americans also drilled at Summit, 28 km west of GRIP, where they penetrated several meters of silty ice prior to reaching bedrock on July 1st 1993. Also, 1.55 meters of bedrock were recovered, making the GISP2 ice core the longest recovered in the northern hemisphere, with a length of 3053.44 meters. Current drilling projects underway in Greenland include the European North GRIP project, which is expected to recover undisturbed ice through the last interglacial period. Shallow cores are also being drilled as part of a multi-institutional NASA-funded project, PARCA (Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment), to determine the current mass balance of the ice sheet.
Canadian ice coring efforts have focussed on the eastern Canadian Arctic, largely under the direction of the Geological Survey of Canada. Ice caps drilled since the early 1970s include the Meighen Ice Cap, the Barnes, Devon and Agassiz ice caps, and most recently, the Penny Ice Cap on Baffin Island. Continued efforts both in Canada and elsewhere in the Arctic are being coordinated under ICAPP (International Circum-Arctic Paleoclimate Program)
Several long cores have also been retrieved in the Antarctic. In 1968, an American team reached bedrock at a depth of 2037 meters at Byrd Station, West Antarctica. The 906-meter Dome C ice core, a joint French/Russian effort, was retrieved during the 1977-78 Antarctic field season as part of the International Antarctic Glaciological project. A new Dome C drilling effort is currently underway under direction of the European Science Foundation. The French/Russian team has also retrieved several ice cores at Vostok Station; the latest drilling reached a record depth of 3300 meters in 1997. Current U.S. efforts on focussed on Siple Dome, West Antarctica.
Shorter Antarctic cores at Newell, Dronning Maud Land, and the Dominion Range have been drilled, yielding interesting results. The Dominion Range was the first in a series of planned Transantarctic Mountains ice-core sites. The Dominion Range is located along the edge of the East Antarctic ice sheet, approximately 500 km from the South Pole and 120 km from the Ross Ice Shelf, at the confluence of Beardmore and Mill Glaciers. Ice cores, only, were collected during the austral summer of 1988-1989. The most recent Transantarctic core was retrieved at Taylor Dome. This core reached bedrock at 554 meters in 1994, and contains a climate record at least through the last interglacial period. Short cores from Siple Dome, Antarctica were collected during the 1996-97 season as part of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) initiative. Twelve cores of varying lengths from 15 to 101 meters were collected. Several were consumed by researchers on site and the remaining were processed and archived at the National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) in Denver, Colorado. Data from these cores is not yet available. The Siple Dome project is expected to finish drilling to bedrock (approx. 1000 meters) during the 1998-99 season.
Many tropical and temperate ice cores have been collected throughout the world. One of the most notable cores is from Quelccaya, Peru. Quelccaya is located at 13o56'S; 70o50'W and has a summit elevation of 5670m. Ice cores to bedrock were drilled in 1983 using the first solar - powered drill. At the Lewis Glacier, Kenya ice core site, two pits were excavated to 2.6 and 2.3 meters and a SIPRE coring device was used to drill cores in the bottom of each pit. The coring site is on the col between the Lewis and Gregory glaciers at an elevation of 4875 meters. One core was 13.4 meters deep and the second was 11.4 meters deep. A 160 meter ice core from the Fremont Glacier, Wyoming was drilled in 1990, again using a solar-powered drill, yielding interesting information on the preservation of the climatic signal in North American temperate ice cores. A new coring project at Fremont is scheduled for 1998.