An ice divide is the boundary on an ice sheet, ice cap or glacier separating opposing flow directions of ice, analogous to a water divide. Such ice divides are important for geochronological investigations using ice cores, because such coring is typically made at highest point of an ice sheet dome in order to avoid the disturbance arising from horizontal ice movement. Ice divides are used for looking at what the atmosphere was like over time. Coring at dome peaks increases accuracy because it is the place where horizontal motion is at its least. The Raymond Effect operates at ice divides, creating anticlines in the radar-detected isochrones, allowing greater capture of older ice when coring.
Analysis of ice cores relies on the downward motion of ice, trapping gases over time into its layers. Scientist locate ice divides and take ice cores from them, which are typically long cylindrical poles of ice, and analyse them. Once they have acquired these ice cores, they are able to look through them and find chemical elements that the snow and ice transported during that time period, e.g. sulfate, nitrate, and other ions. The ice cores are important in determining how our atmosphere has changed for the better or worse, and how we can remedy changes such as the greenhouse effect which was discovered when scientist found more greenhouse gases was in our atmosphere at present compared with the past.
Scientists from around the United States came together to find the best ice divide in order to go the further into the past. They formed the WAIS project. This project is funded by the United States National Science Foundation, and is run by scientists from many organizations such as National Ice Core Laboratory, Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO), and over fifty Universities. The WAIS project is located in West Antarctica, and the goal is to look into the past 100,000 years. WAIS is better than other ice divides because of the amount of snow it gets. This large amount of snow causes there to be a very small off-set between the ages of the ice to the air and gases trapped inside. This allows scientists to give much more precise statements about what the atmosphere was like in the past. If the WAIS project is a success it will educate scientists around the world how the atmosphere of Earth has changed completely over 100,000 years.
- University of Copenhagen. (2012). Centre for Ice and Climate. Retrieved December 6, 2012 (dead link)[permanent dead link]
- "National Science Foundation. (2012, December 6). Science. Retrieved December 6, 2012, from WAIS Divide Ice Core website". Archived from the original on 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
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