We are developing a traverse capability and establishing a station inland from the Antarctic coast. These are central to:
- facilitating the retrieval of a million‑year ice core from Dome C, which is 1,300 km inland of Casey station and 3,000 metres above sea level
- enabling other science elsewhere on the inland plateau in successive seasons
- supporting remote field landing areas for aviation across the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Ice core science provides a record of past climate changes that is essential to understanding how the climate operates. On a global scale, ice cores show the pivotal role of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the climate system. They reveal, in detail, how human emissions have driven atmospheric CO2 far above natural levels seen for 800,000 years. Ice cores are also used to explore regional Australian climate including the variability and drivers of droughts and floods.
Through the Million Year Ice Core Project, Australia is leading a major effort to recover the oldest possible continuous ice core record, extending back potentially 1.5 million years. This endeavour is recognised as a major international challenge in climate science. It requires many cores to achieve maximum age and verify results, and several nations are proceeding towards drilling.
This work will answer central questions about the long-term global role of CO2 and will give a stronger basis for predicting long-term impacts of human emissions while improving climate models and our understanding of present climate change.
The project will involve 4 to 5 years of drilling. Supporting traverses will depart Casey in November each year, reaching the station in about 14 days. Return trips will be made in early February. The inland station is designed to withstand temperatures as low as −85°C.