Soil contributes in a wide variety of ways to the stability of society. Climate change and population growth will affect soil’s health and its ability to support Earth’s many inhabitants.
The U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP)
has drilled and recovered a 3,331-meter long ice core from the West
Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in area called the WAIS Divide, a high point
on the ice sheet where the ice begins to flow in different directions.
took five years working from a lonely field camp in one of the
stormiest regions of the West Antarctic to extract the ice, which
contains clues about Earth’s past climate from the last 100,000 years,
which covers the most recent glacial period, when the Earth was cooler
and large ice sheets covered the northern and southern hemispheres.
Concentrations of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) were much
lower than today’s high of 390 parts per million. Climate scientists
are particularly excited about the WAIS Divide ice core because it
promises to offer a particularly “high-resolution” record of the past
40,000 years, with thick annual layers akin to tree rings.
National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that
supports fundamental research and education across all fields of
science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, its budget is about
$6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly
2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000
competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding
awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service
To learn more about the WAIS Divide project and ice-core drilling, read Deep core complete: WAIS Divide project finishes five-year effort to retrieve 3,331 meters of ice in the Antarctic Sun, the U.S. Antarctic Program’s online magazine.