Tracking climate change

In August 2004, a new and exciting chapter will be opened in the history of Arctic research. In the Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX), three icebreakers will set off in the direction of the North Pole to extract cores from beneath the Arctic seafloor. By investigating marine sediments, an international team of scientists will trace the history of the climatic environment of the Arctic over the last 50 million years, from the time before sea ice first appeared in the Arctic to the present climatic period that is marked by the greenhouse effect caused by humans. This will be the deepest oceanic sediment core yet to be extracted from the Arctic. On completion of the expedition, the cores will be brought to the DFG Ocean Margins Research Centre's core repository at the University of Bremen, where an international group of scientists will carry out detailed investigations in November. ACEX is the first European contribution to a new international research programme in geosciences, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), which the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) will fund over the next ten years with approximately 50 million.

From a scientific, technical and logistical point of view, this expedition to the North Pole is a spectacular project. For the first time, sedimentary cores are to be extracted from beneath the ice-covered Arctic Ocean an environmental archive that will yield information about the climate changes of past ages. The cores give information on water temperature, salt content and ocean currents and, in addition, will show how and when the Arctic sea ice was formed. This information will be highly significant to our understanding of global climate changes. The drillings will be carried out very close to the pole, on the Lomonosov Ridge. This sub-ocean mountain range stretches from northern Greenland, across the Polar Sea, to Siberia. Extracting sediments from below the Arctic seabed is a major logistical


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