The National Ice Core Lab

Jennifer Shea Hedberg | 13 March, 2014

Because Wintercraft revolves around ice, we jump on every opportunity we can to learn about it. So while visiting the Breckenridge Ice Castle this March, we decided to throw in a visit to the National Ice Core Laboratory located in Denver, Colorado. It is not set up for regular visitors, so one needs to call well in advance to be allowed to tour this large facility which houses ice cores from all over the world.

One of the main reasons teams of scientists travel to arctic regions of the world, drill for ice that is millions of years old and ship them to Denver is so they can study the chemical makeup of the ice cores. This information will help them plot weather and temperature changes through time and apply that information to the current analysis of climate change. Not only was the currator of the lab's repository there to offer insights, but one of the main scientists who lives in the Antarctica base was also there to talk about what he is currrently studying.

After the discussion in the warm offices of the building, it was time to tour the storage facility. It is necessary to keep the cores at a temperature of -30 degrees Farenheit to insure the chemical content remains stable. Yes, it was cold--especially because we were standing still listening to the currator discuss how the cores are examined and sliced up into pieces to be shipped to other laboratories all over the world. As many know, staying warm in cold temps is easier when moving!  Fortunately, I had my winter gear complete with neck warmer and hood. There were a few sad souls with no hat or warm coat. I was impressed that they lasted through the entire discussion in the freezer.

While this might not be a common first choice for a trip detour, it proved fascinating for us! Here are a few photos from the tour...

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