Breaking the Ice for Research – UC Irvine

[ music ] [ ice scraping ] The feeling of holding an ice core that is 50,000 years old is pretty surreal It makes me realize just how small humans are in the grand scheme of the Earth's age and what's happening

My name is Melinda Nicewonger I'm a first generation college student [ steam releasing ] and I love ice core research, because it's cool And the pun is intended there [ laughter ] [ ice breaking ] [ music ] My research involves using ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica to understand how fires have changed in the past Understanding the past climate is important for us in terms of understanding what could happen in the future

As well as understanding just how much humans are changing the climate now from its natural background levels Ice cores hold a lot of information about the Earth's climate You have the ice itself And then you also have the air bubbles that are trapped inside So within the air bubbles you can see whatever was in the atmosphere over the last 800,000 years

Within the ice itself you can see things like volcanic ash layers, bacteria and the temperature of the planet as well [ wind blowing ] My role when I went to Antarctica was to help drill an ice core called the South Pole Ice Core Depending on the ice core site we can drill anywhere from maybe 5,000 feet to over two miles in depth The ice travels about 11,000 miles from Antarctica back to UC Irvine where we can analyze the ice cores

[ music ] [ beeping ] Here at our lab we're specifically interested in trace gases, which are gases that are found in very small amounts in the atmosphere And these gases can tell us a lot about different climate phenomenon like wildfires or how the ocean circulates I just think it's phenomenal that we can look back in time by using ice and seeing what's going on in our planet and really trying to make projections about how our climate may change in the future so that we can be better prepared

Source: Youtube