International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS)

IPICS logo

IN MARCH, 2004 THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION supported a workshop proposal submitted by National Ice Core Laboratory-Science Management Office to gather the world’s premier ice core scientists, engineers and drillers to establish a formal plan for utilizing the strengths and expertise of each nation to promote future ice core projects and to develop focused research objectives.  This resulted in a four-element framework of projects that both extends the ice core record in time and enhances spatial resolution.

A follow up meeting in October, 2005, supported by the European Polar Consortium, advanced these objectives to develop a “Roadmap and Pathways to Implementation” of the four IPICS flagship projects. An official IPICS steering committee was also formed, which includes national representatives from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.

In the wake of the IPICS meetings, the future goals of ice core research have been outlined in four White Papers summarizing the scientific objectives, as well as drilling and implementation plans. The programs outlined in the four IPICS White Papers that are to be tackled in the coming years are:

  1. The oldest ice core: A 1.5 million year record of climate and greenhouse gases from Antarctica (a time period where Earth’s climate shifted from 40,000 year to 100,000 year cycles)
  2. The last interglacial and beyond: A northwest Greenland deep ice core-drilling project (a deep ice core in Greenland recovering an intact record of the last interglacial period) (see NEEM story below)
  3. The IPICS 40,000-year network: A bipolar record of climate forcing and response
  4. The IPICS 2k Array: A global network of ice core climate and climate forcing records for the last two millennia

A fifth, and critical, element of IPICS is the development of advanced ice core drilling technology.  A technical white paper, entitled “Ice Core Drilling Technical Challenges” addresses this.

In March 2006, members from the twenty nations represented by the group developed an IPICS Mission Statement:

  • Defining priorities for international ice core science for the next two decades
  • Developing the identified priority projects, and any organizational structures needed to enable them.
  • Acting as a voice that will promote ice core science, and the priority projects in particular to: funding and logistics agencies, international organizations, and other scientific communities.
  • Providing a forum for coordination and exchange of information between ice core practitioners from different nations.
  • Promoting the maintenance, enhancement and sharing of expertise and capability in ice core drilling, curation, analysis and other technical areas needed to carry out the priority projects.
  • Encouraging the training of young ice core scientists needed to carry out the current priority projects and to develop the next generation of projects.

For more information on IPICS and the White Papers please visit the IPICS website at or contact the Chairs of the IPICS Steering Committee:

Ed Brook, University of Oregon
Eric Wolff, British Antarctic Survey