1 Oct 2010

Antarctic drilling to continue

6:12 am on 1 October 2010

A joint United States - New Zealand Antarctic drilling programme will resume late next month from a remote camp on the Ross Ice Shelf.

The programme, known as ANDRILL, aims to give more information about climate change.

It is funded by the US National Science Foundation with support from the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science & Technology.

A joint team will use hot water drills to melt through 250 metres of ice to take samples from the ice, the sea beneath it, and the rocks beneath the seabed.

Earlier ANDRILL expeditions melted through 80 metres of ice.

Team leader Frank Rack says the new mission aims to go back 40 million years, to record the transition from an ice-free Antarctica to the creation of the ice sheet.

This will allow scientists to look at a warmer interval on Earth, with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, to get an idea of what higher levels might do in future.