CORDIS - EU research results

Programme Category


Article available in the following languages:


A 1.5 million year look into the past for improving climate predictions


The action should support the preparations for new ice-drilling campaigns in Antarctica and help screen suitable sites where future drilling could provide ice-core records, extending up to 1.5 million years into the past. It should aim to define the feasibility of acquiring a 1.5 Myr ice-core record and establish a technical and logistic roadmap for the development of an international drilling campaign, while developing the financial engineering and the framework for international cooperation necessary to support the future endeavour.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged.

In agreement with the Commission services, projects should ensure appropriate flexibility so as to respond in real time to potentially fast-changing policy scenarios.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Up to one action shall be funded.

Ice cores contain unique and quantitative information about past climate forcing and responses and have provided essential evidence about mechanisms of climate change, underpinning our understanding of future climate change. The challenge is to extend the record/analysis back to the so called 'mid-Pleistocene transition', when the frequency of glacial cycles changed considerably in response to orbital perturbations. This will allow to better constrain the climate response to future GHG emissions and unravel key linkages between the carbon cycle, ice sheets and atmospheric and ocean climate. A realistic target is to acquire a new ice core from the Antarctic that will contain a record back to 1.5 million years (Myr), but a suitable site where such ice exists has not yet been identified and will require a significant integrated effort.

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • creating the pre-conditions for the future drilling campaign to take place;
  • fostering, ensuring and coordinating the commitment of Member States and international partners in the future drilling campaign;
  • enabling the deployment of the most innovative techniques, technologies and methodologies;
  • sustaining the leadership of the European ice-core community, including through interaction with the International Partnership in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS).