The World of Ice Core Sciences in Tasmania

The past week, ice core scientists from all over the world have met in Hobart, Tasmania, to share the latest results as well as ideas for future work. The ice core science expertise that came together for this second edition of the IPICS Open Science Conference is unique for which reason many colleagues call this conference the best in their field.

About 10 years ago the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS) has formed and released a few white papers as a guide for future ice core research. In 2012, IPICS called for the first IPICS Open Science Conference in South France, which marked the first true international ice core meeting ever. The past week, all 18 member countries of IPICS sent their researchers again – this time to beautiful Hobart – for the second edition of this conference, which was again a very successful and fruitful one week conference with about 250 attendees.

Tas van Ommen from the host institute ACECRD opening the IPICS Open Science Conference 2016 in Hobart, Tasmania.

Tas van Ommen from the host institute ACECRD opening the IPICS Open Science Conference 2016 in Hobart, Tasmania.

The presented topics covered all fields of ice core research. Special sessions were hold for example about new insights from non-polar ice cores (from tropical and alpine regions), or where to find the oldest ice in Antarctica (expected to be as old as 1.5 million years old) as well as new results about ice flow of the large polar ice sheets (which is essential knowledge for future sea level change predictions based on ice sheet modeling). In total about 65 scientific talks were given and probably about 250 posters were presented, an ideal size for fruitful exchange.

Interesting progress in the search for the oldest ice in Antarctica could be presented and a couple of regions in east central Antarctica are now under closer investigation for possible drill sites for this prestigious project. Also a new approach to use trapped gas in ice cores to reconstruct past ocean temperatures gained some attraction. For the first time useful results from this kind of analysis of two different labs were presented, which seem to be able to deliver a lot of new insights into the energy budget of the climate system.

Besides the scientific topics, also the very recent announcements of strong cuts at the Australian Research Institute CSIRO were discussed. Many of our Australian ice core colleagues with whom collaborations have been undertaken over decades are now in danger to lose their jobs because political leaders in Australia believe climate science does not need observations anymore, but needs only research on climate mitigation. This political tendency away from observation oriented research towards research on climate mitigation is not only an Australian phenomenon. Unfortunately, this tendency forgets the fact that climate mitigation and observation is very strongly linked and only with the continuation of high quality observation, good mitigation is possible. There is the hope that the Australian government rethinks its plans during the ongoing hearings and they don’t waste the money they have invested over the last decades to build up the knowledge they now want to get rid of.

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