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3 - a changing climate

The climate of the past

ice coreBy drilling a hollow tube up to 3,000 metres into the Antarctic ice, scientists can pull out samples of ice known as ice cores that have been buried for thousands of years.

Each layer of an ice core represents a particular point in time. The layers contain pockets of ancient air sealed in tiny bubbles that show different concentrations of gases. By studying the archive of gases in the trapped air, scientists can get a very good idea of what the air quality and climate was like up to 900,000 years ago. They may even find clues about future changes that could affect us all.


ice core






12,000 years ago

73,000 years ago


900,000 years ago

Take a trip back in time! Hover over the ice core dates to find out what scientists have already discovered:

Click here to download a Word file containing the information from the ice cores




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