Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The NSF-ICF currently stores over 22,000 meters of firn and ice core collected from various locations in Greenland, Antarctica, and North America. View our INVENTORY for a list of the cores available in the NSF-ICF archive.

Sample requests are coordinated through the Science Management Office. Samples are available to investigators, but NSF-funded investigators may be given priority to certain core sections. Non-U.S. scientists and non-National Science Foundation (NSF) funded scientists may be required to have an NSF funded collaborator before they can be given access to certain ice cores.

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Shipping samples back to PI home institutions is fairly expensive, and the PI is responsible for the shipping cost. Depending upon your sample size, you can get 4-5-meters of sample per ice core box. The ICF packs the samples so that they are completely surrounded by eutectics. The lab staff tracks each shipment to its final destination and will forward shipping information to you for your tracking. The ICF uses FedEx overnight for shipping. The samples will last 48 hours in the ice core boxes. The packed boxes are heavy and fairly expensive to ship. Shipping estimates are ~$325 to $350 per box. It’s important to keep these shipping costs in mind when writing your proposal. You are also required to return the shipping containers to ICF via ground transport.

Sample requests are coordinated through the Science Management Office. If you have questions, contact Joe Souney at nsf.icf.smo at

Ice cores obtained through NSF-funded programs may be accepted for storage at the NSF-ICF. Only ice cores made of meteoric ice are authorized for storage at the NSF-ICF. No sea ice, permafrost, or sediment cores are permitted in the facility.

Investigators must contact the Science Management Office (SMO; nsf.icf.smo at during the planning stages of a project, prior to proposal submission, for possible permission to store new ice cores. Investigators must complete the Sample Request/ Facility Use form and email it to the SMO at least four weeks in advance of your proposal submission deadline.

Storage space is an issue, so we are selective regarding which new shallow cores are accepted into storage.

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Yes. Upon receipt of your sample shipment, you must return the shipping container, the temperature logger, and any eutectic packs that accompanied your ice. The shipping address to use for the NSF-ICF is:

National Ice Core Laboratory
U.S. Geological Survey
One Denver Federal Center
Building 810, Entrance E-11, MS 975
Denver, CO 80225-0046

Please also send an email the NSF-ICF (nicl at ) to let them know that are returning your sample container(s).

Tours of the ICF will be limited in 2024 due to a higher-than-usual volume of ice core processing. The further in advance you request a tour, the more likely we will be able to accommodate you.

The NSF-ICF supports a variety of outreach activities. The facility is a popular destination for field trips from schools, universities, visiting federal agencies, teachers, museum groups, and interested individuals. As such, the NSF-ICF tour schedule generally needs to be booked several months in advance.

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Yes, media visits (e.g., film crews) are allowed at the NSF-ICF. However, media visits should be booked as far in advance as possible and a completed 'Media Request Form' must be submitted. NSF-ICF staff cannot accommodate "drop-in" visits or spur-of-the-moment tours. Please plan ahead. For more information, visit