CANBERRA, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Australia will lead a major project in Antarctica to drill a 40-meter deep ice core which may provide information on climate change, a senior official announced on Saturday.
Returning from a three-day visit to the Antarctica, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Tony Burke said the Aurora Basin North project, which will drill a 40-metre deep ice core 600 kilometers inland from Australia's Casey station next summer to retrieve a 2,000 year-long ice core from deep in the heart of east Antarctica.
The project will allow researchers to gain access to the most detailed record of past climate in the vast region.
Burke said the project was critically important to understanding how the climate had naturally varied in the past, and it would help predict future responses to global climate change.
"Ice cores provide the written history of our atmosphere and our water," he said.
Aurora Basin is the ideal site for the research as it has sufficient snowfall -- 11 centimetres of ice per year -- to provide the first record of year-to-year changes over the past 2, 000 years on the continent.
"(The project) involves groundwork like the Aurora Basin drilling, airborne surveys and computer modeling of the ice," Burke said.
The current project is expected to lead to actual drilling for a one million year old ice core by various international consortia in the coming years.
The international collaboration will involve about 20 scientists from Australia, Denmark, the United States and France.