WorldWide Drilling Resource®

Special Radar Determines Drill Site Adapted from Information by the University of Alabama As part of an international effort to better understand the earth’s climate history, a unique radar was developed by engineering researchers at the University of Alabama (UA) to help find the drill location to recover some of the oldest ice buried in East Antarctica. “With active participation of UA students, our team developed very complex, high-sensitivity remote sensing radars in less than a year, and successfully mapped deep layers no other group has been able to accom- plish,” said Dr. Siva Prasad Gogineni, Cudworth Professor of Engineering, director of the UA Remote Sensing Center, and an internationally recognized expert in the field of remote sensing. The work is part of Beyond EPICA (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica), a more than $12 million project supported by the European Union involving 12 institutions in ten European countries, with UA selected to perform precise radar imaging. It follows a previous effort between 1996 and 2004, dubbed EPICA, which recovered an 800,000-year-old ice core. The ultra-wideband radar and antenna capable of penetrating deep into ice was deployed to the site to scan nearly two miles below the ice. It was able to produce a high-definition image of ice layering in the deepest part of the ice sheet. The radar collected a tremendous amount of data initially analyzed on-site using software developed by UA students and faculty. The data was further analyzed and modelled in European laboratories, allowing scientists to confirm the exact future drilling site with a meter-scale resolution. Using information collected by the radar, scientists leading the project confirmed they were able to select the exact site they intend to drill the core of ice - at Little Dome C, an area of about six square miles nearly 620 miles inland. It is possible drilling will recover ice nearly 1.5 million years old to reveal Antarctica’s climate and the greenhouse gasses present during the Middle Pleistocene Transition (between 900,000 and 1.2 million years ago), which may reveal why the climate cycle for the earth’s ice ages lengthened roughly one million years ago. During this time, the periods between glacial climates transitioned, lengthening from about 41,000 years to 100,000 years between ice ages. This change is the mystery Beyond EPICA seeks to resolve. If the project proceeds according to plan, it will take six years to drill, collect, and analyze the ice from what will be a deep borehole. 28 MAY 2020 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® ENV