EAST ANTARCTICA - Scientists are on a quest to learn more about the planet's ancient climate by extracting ice samples that are dated to be 1.5 million years of age from the ice sheets of East Antarctica. The 2.75-kilometer-thick ice cores will have been the oldest ice ever drilled for and sampled. 

Through this project, aptly called the Beyond Epica project, the scientists are optimistic to learn more about the Earth's future climate. The project which is expected to start in June 2020 with funding that is expected to reach £9.4 million from the European Commission. 

The international team of scientists has decided they are ready to set up camp in an area they call Little Dome C, this after two years of extensive research on the matter. The exact drilling site will be announced on the 9th of April this year.

This is not the first drilling in the Antarctic that has brought climate issues into light. In 2004, an ice sample 3,200 meters in length was unearthed by the Epica project which was 800,000 years in age. Studies and research conducted with the aid of the said ice sample have established a link between the carbon dioxide levels and the changing global temperatures.

Professor Raimund Muscheler explains that greenhouse gas concentration is definitely higher than it was 800,000 years ago. Knowing this will hopefully shed light on the workings of the climate on Earth. 

When drilling for ice samples, ice cores, which are cylindrical logs taken from ice sheets or a high mountain glacier, are drilled using either hand augers or powered drills. The buildup of ice over a long period of time causes the ice sheets to have layers where the uppermost parts are newer and more current than the lower layers. These are analyzed for proportions between hydrogen isotopes and oxygen. It will also have tiny bubbles that are expected to have atmospheric contents such as carbon dioxide. Future climates of the planet can be predicted through generated models basing on the collected data. Dr. Poul Christoffersen, a glaciologist at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, describes this as a "thermometer of the past."

Christoffersen explained the big change in the planet's climate called the Mid-Pleistocene Transition which happened about a million years ago. Ice ages, also called glaciations, happened every 40,000 years before the said transition. Studying samples from this period can prove that gases like carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could greatly affect the climate on Earth.

Muscheler seeks to use the data gathered from the samples to possibly urge the policymakers and the public to take the vital action needed to finally come to the planet's aid.