Antarctic Drilling Program


Date of this Version



Published in Nature 453 (May 1, 2008), p. 13; doi:10.1038/453013a Published online April 24, 2008. Copyright © 2008 Nature Publishing Group. Used by permission.


A unique drilling project in the western Ross Sea has revealed that Antarctica had a much more eventful climate history than previously assumed. A new sediment core hints that the western part of the now-frozen continent went through prolonged ice-free phases — presumably offering a glimpse of where our warming world might be heading. Researchers reported initial results from ANDRILL, a US$30-million international drilling project, on April 16 at the assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna. During the past two years, the team has extracted two cores, each containing some 1,200 meters of sediment, from the seabed below the vast Ross Ice Shelf, a floating extension of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Together, the cores provide an almost uninterrupted 17-million-year record of Antarctica’s climatic past.