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How do scientists take ice core samples?

Traveling from Ny-Alesund by skidoo to field site, Fabian Drewes of the University of Innsbruck hacks away at the ice to reach the soil to take samples for nutrient measurements. There's still a lot of snow to move in order to reach the glacial ice suitable for taking core samples.

The ice corer has a design very similar to a drill. It has a thread which runs around the outside of the hollow central tube which, when turned, draws the corer into the ground. The sample is forced into the central chamber so that once the ice corer is pulled back up from the ground, the sample can be removed ready for storage and the journey home. The team uses latex gloves to ensure that the samples are not contaminated. This preserves the validity of the data.

Samples are loaded into the box on the back of the skidoo. All are carefully labelled in sterile bags and sample tubes. This is to avoid any contamination and to ensure the science team can accurately state the nutrient and microbial quantities across the different sample sites.

After a successful day, the team and the core samples return to the base and analysis can begin.

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