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It's a cold case for sure. Scientists are extracting some of the oldest ice on Earth to hunt for secrets about the climate more than a million years ago.

An ice core extracted from deep beneath the Antarctic surface could reveal what chemicals made up the atmosphere of the Earth long before the current era.

Working in brutal conditions of on average -50C (-58F), the researchers have been drilling near to the Concordia Research Station.

Professor Olaf Eisen, a glaciologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven Germany, has been coordinating the mission.

Image: The researchers dug 2.7km down into the thick ice

He told APTN: "We are interested in determining the composition of the atmosphere and the time between 900,000 and 1.2 million years ago.

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"The oldest ice core we have so far has 800,000-years-old, that doesn't go back far enough.

"So within the project Oldest Ice, which is an international project within the international partnership of ice core sciences, the goal is to find at least one, hopefully more than one ice core, going back to 1.5 million years ago.

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"Ice cores preserve the composition of the atmosphere in bubbles in the ice."

To analyse these bubbles the scientists have needed to explore an enormous region of Antarctica's deep ice – but not too deep, or the ice may have melted.

Image: A snow tractor was used to tow a ground-penetrating radar

Using a ground-penetrating Read More – Source

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