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World's First Global Ice Archive in the Works to Preserve Memory of Disappearing Glaciers

May 25, 2017 09:23 AM EDT
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Frozen bodies of Swiss couple missing for 75 years found on Alps glacier

Every year Earth's glaciers vanish a little bit more. It's a harsh reality that the time is coming that some of the majestic ice pillars may disappear completely with no trace left of their existence.

An international team of scientists wants to make sure that at least some pieces of these glaciers are preserved for future generations to study. According to a report from IFLScience, the Ice Memory Project will be saving ice cores from the endangered glaciers in a sanctuary in Antarctica.

"In the coming decades, or even the coming centuries, these samples will be invaluable -- be it for entirely unprecedented scientific discoveries or for understanding local changes in the environment," Nobel Peace Prize winner and climatologist Jean Jouzel said on their website. "This project has my full support."

French and Italian glaciologists began the project in 2015 and after proving its feasibility during a trial run in Mont Blanc, French Alps in 2016, the team is ready for another field expedition to collect more samples. Joined with scientists from Brazil, Bolivia and Russia, the group will embark on a mission to drill and get three core samples from Bolivia's second-highest mountain, Illimani, this week.

After the expedition, one of the three core samples will be sent to Grenoble, France, for observation. The other two will be sent to a "snow cave" in Concordia, a research station in Antarctica. Antarctica is the best site for storage of scientific data and materials because of the freezing temperature that can preserve and protect it.

Preservation of non-polar glacier samples is important because of its ability to record changes in climate and atmospheric conditions, giving scientists a glimpse of former environments' climates.

Just recently, scientists have said that the United States will lose all of its glaciers within decades. The increasing temperature has already destroyed a sizeable chunk of the famous Glacier National Park.

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