Exciting challenges lie ahead of the European ice core community. A new continuous deep ice core will be soon drilled down to the bedrock in East Antarctica (details on the EU Beyond Epica Oldest Ice Core (BEOI) project) and will recover potentially 1.5 million of years (Ma). This new deep ice core will enable the paleoclimate community to address major scientific questions on the role of ice sheet size and greenhouse gas concentrations on the dynamics of past climate changes. In particular, a key challenge is to understand why the periodicity of glacial to interglacial cycles changed from 41 to 100 thousand of years during the so-called Mid-Pleistocene Transition, between 0.8 and 1.2 Ma, while at the same time the orbital forcing given by astronomical parameters keeps the same periodicity (Figure).
In addition to the logistical challenges associated with the drilling of a ~3km-long ice core in extreme climatic conditions, large technological and scientific challenges need to be tackled in order to exploit this unique archive in the field and back in the laboratory. As the new climatic records between 0.8 and 1.5 Ma will be located at the bottom of the ice core and hence, the ice will be extremely thinned (1 m of ice covering 10 000 years). Thus, an optimal analysis of this precious ice for getting the best scientific outputs require to develop new techniques to analyse precisely very small quantity of ice. Besides, the results related to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration changes and climate change will have to be confronted to climate model simulations in order to progress on the physical processes.
Goal of DEEPICE project
Firstly, the DEEPICE network (2021-2024) capitalizes on this unique European scientific endeavour, providing an educational and training program to 15 PhD students. Such subject is closely related to the major societal questions on climate change and its impact in the polar vulnerable regions. The goal of DEEPICE is hence to build a training program benefiting from the momentum created by the BEOI drilling project and its societal impact by complementing it by a program of basic and applied science questions in preparation of the Oldest Ice analysis that will start in 2024. Secondly, DEEPICE will offer unique links with many non-academic partners that will provide the students with the extended skill-set now required for academic and non-academic careers. The study of climate change is a complex scientific subject as well as a long-term challenge for society. Hence, DEEPICE will provide a full educational program including a robust scientific understanding of climate processes and technical skills (statistics, specific instrumentation, climate modelling), transferable skills as well as a unique experience in the synthesis and communication of updated data on climate change.