Polar scientists will reveal 50 million years of climate history

07/23/04

Invitation to a press conference

Three icebreakers will carry a team of international scientists to the Arctic Ocean next month (8 August), to study its geological history. The Arctic Coring Expedition, ACEX, aims to reach several hundreds of metres into the sediments of the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain chain, which contain millions of years of climate history. No operation on this scale has ever before been attempted by scientists in such a hostile environment and the project has the highest scientific priority.

By analysing samples from the 500 metre-thick sediment on top of the ridge scientists will reconstruct the climatic and environmental history of the Arctic. The Arctic plays a fundamental role to the climate and the complexity of this basin can only be examined by direct sampling of sediments.

Climate change, from hothouse to icehouse, and the cause of this change is vigorously debated among scientists and the ACEX team will make a valuable contribution to the discussions by revealing the long-term history of Arctic sea ice.

The Lomonosov Ridge, about 1000 metres under the sea-surface, located at 88°N about 250 kilometres from the North Pole. The expedition will return after six weeks, in mid-September, and later during the year the analysing work will start at Bremen University in Germany.

ACEX is a very complex mission and the operational plan includes three icebreakers; the Swedish registered Vidar Viking which will serve as the coring vessel, the Swedish icebreaker Oden which will be a "protection shield" as well as the operational HQ and the Russian icebreaker Sovetskiy Soyuz will be the main icebreaker. As the Arctic weather and ice conditions can be very harsh it is a great challenge to keep the vessel-mounted rig stationary while it retrieves cores from the seabed below.

Notes for editors:

1. More information concerning the ACEX can be found at the expedition web site http://www.iodp.de. A logbook with reports and pictures can also be found on this page.

2. Due to security regulations it is absolutely necessary for ALL participants in the press conference to register their participation in advance (at the latest 5 August).

3. For further information and registration, please contact Eva Grönlund, Information Officer at the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, e-mail: eva@polar.se or telephone: 46-70-344-9251 (mobile), 46-8673-9730 (office), or Andy Kingdon, British Geological Survey, e-mail: aki@bgs.ac.uk or telephone: 44-115-936-3415 (office), 44-7779-616-602 (mobile).

4. The press conference will take place on board Oden in Breivika, Tromsø, on Friday 6 August 2004 at 11.00.

5. An overview of the scientific objectives as well as the operational management will be given at the press conference. There will also be a guided tour onboard for interested, and good opportunities for photographing and interviews.

6. The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, IODP, is an international scientific endeavour that supports basic research into the history of the ocean basins, the nature of climate change, the composition and structure of ocean crust and sediments and life that exists beneath the seafloor. IODP conducts technologically advanced ocean drilling expeditions which investigate regions beneath the seafloor that are inaccessible by any other technology.

7. ECORD Science Operator, ESO, is conducting the ACEX operation on behalf of ECORD, for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. ESO is a consortium of institutions, coordinated by the British Geological Survey, including University of Bremen, European Petrophysics Consortium and Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.

8. The British Geological Survey, BGS, is the world's first geological survey, formed in 1835. It is the nation's principal supplier of geoscience expertise and custodian of much of the country's geoscientific information. The BGS provides objective, impartial and up-to-date geoscientific information, advice and services which meet the needs of customers in the commercial, governmental and scientific communities of Great Britain and overseas, thereby contributing to the economic competitiveness of the country, the effectiveness of public services and policy, and quality of life.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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