An ice core at the electrical properties station during a NSF-ICF core processing line

NSF-ICF in the News

August 15, 2017

CU Boulder Today, Ula Chrobak

A summer job in sub-zero temperatures

The thermostat may read 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside the sprawling federal research complex in Lakewood, Colorado, but inside, CU Boulder undergraduate student Casey Vanderheyden is donning a bulky winter coat, gloves and boots as though she is headed to the South Pole. Full Story...


July 13, 2017

The New York Times Magazine, photographs by Spencer Lowell and text by Malia Wollan

Arks of the Apocalypse

All around the world, scientists are building repositories of everything from seeds to ice to mammal milk — racing to preserve a natural order that is fast disappearing. Full Story...


March 20, 2017

Colorado Public Radio, Sam Brasch

A Frigid Colorado Archive On Climate Change Faces An Uncertain Future

You may have never heard of it, but one of the world's most important archives on climate change is right here in Colorado. The National Ice Core Laboratory in West Denver holds records on the atmosphere going back hundreds of thousands of years. The data at NICL isn't stored on disks or in books. Inside the freezer, aisles are stacked floor-to-ceiling with silver cylinders about the length of your arm. Each tube holds ice cores recovered from polar regions of the planet. Full Story...


August 24, 2016

Ars Technica, Scott K. Johnson

From the South Pole to the science section: How ice becomes knowledge

It's -30 degrees Celsius, even though the Sun hangs ceaselessly in the sky. Dressed in puffy, insulated suits and gloves thick enough to both hinder dexterity and preserve fingers, a team gamely tilts a drill barrel back to horizontal. With one smooth, firm motion, a two-meter-long cylinder of ice, bursting with history, is pushed free and slides down a temporary work bench. Full Story...


August 10, 2016

Associated Press, Dan Elliott

Ancient ice reveals vital clues about Earth's past climate

Inside a huge walk-in freezer in suburban Denver, a college student in a thick parka shoots a jolt of electricity through a yard-long column of ice extracted from Antarctica. Just outside the freezer, in a much warmer room, a computer wired to the ice registers a sudden spike in a jagged red line crawling across the screen. Full Story...


April 12, 2016

The Antarctic Sun, Mike Lucibella

Getting to the Bottom of SPICECORE – Researchers drill deep into the ice beneath the South Pole to sample Earth's ancient atmosphere

As the winch extracted a two-meter-long cylinder of ancient ice in late December, Murat Aydin looked on. "If we can keep this pace up we should be able to hit 1,600 meters," he said. "This is going to be the deepest ice core drilled at the South Pole by quite a margin." By the end of the project a month later, researchers with the South Pole Ice Core project, known more succinctly as SPICECORE, had exceeded even their most ambitious goals. Full Story...


July 15, 2015

The Antarctic Sun, Mike Lucibella

Empowering Educators at the School of Ice – U.S. Ice Drilling Program Office Offers Educators a Close-Up Look at Ice Core Science

To the casual observer, mid-June may not seem like the ideal time to explore the science of ancient ice. However, last month, as the hot sun beat down outside, a dozen geoscience professors donned boots and thick red parkas to brave sub-zero freezers and learn the secrets embedded in ice many thousands of years old, from the coldest places on Earth. Full Story...


June 20, 2015

CBS Denver, Chris Spears

How Scientists Use Ice Cores To See Nearly 1 Million Years Of Past Climate

It might be easy to agree that global climates are changing, but what's driving the change is a much more controversial topic of conversation. Climate scientists are confident that human activity is a main driver, but how did they come to that conclusion? Research at places like the National Ice Core Lab in Lakewood, Colorado, help provide answers. Full Story...


January 20, 2015

University of Washington, Hannah Hickey

Scientists drilling first deep ice core at the South Pole

This winter, when many people's imaginations were fixed on the North Pole, a small group of scientists has been working on the other side of the planet. In round-the-clock daylight and frigid temperatures, glaciologists have been drilling an ice core at the South Pole.

Drilling continues through the end of January for the first of two years of a joint project by the University of Washington and the University of California, Irvine. The National Science Foundation is funding the South Pole Ice Core Project to dig into climate history at the planet's southernmost tip. Full Story...


June 7, 2013

The Antarctic Sun, Peter Rejcek

Faithful reproduction – Team at NICL processes replicate ice cores from WAIS Divide

It's a scene that's been repeated for the last several summers in the Denver metro area: People bundled in thick coats, wool hats and heavy boots – as if ready for an arctic adventure – step into what appears to be a white-walled workshop. There are table saws and planers and less familiar instruments, including a device that sports electrodes.

This is the ice core processing room for the National Ice Core Laboratory at the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, Colo., with an ambient temperature of minus 24 degrees Celsius. Full Story...


October 1, 2012

Science Nation, National Science Foundation

National Ice Core Lab Stores Valuable Ancient Ice – Lab supplies Arctic, Antarctic ice cores critical to climate research

It's a freezing cold day inside the National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) in Denver, Colo., as it is every day of the year. That's because the NICL is a facility for storing and studying ice cores recovered from the polar regions of the world. It's minus 23.3 degrees Celsius (minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit) inside, so everyone is bundled up in ski parkas, insulated gloves and boots. And, saws are buzzing, as scientists from all over the U.S. are measuring and cutting pieces of precious Antarctic glacier ice to take back to their labs for research. Full Story...


June 29, 2012

The Antarctic Sun, Peter Rejcek

Processed and packaged – Last cores from WAIS Divide borehole go through NICL

It took a month to prepare for a week's worth of work at the National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) in Lakewood, Colo. It was a long time in coming.

But the final sections of ice core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide were sliced and diced in mid-June, with samples of ancient ice destined for labs across the country to analyze the paleoclimate record. About 75 meters of ice were processed through NICL after the hole was deepened this past field season. Full Story...


September 2, 2011

The Antarctic Sun, Peter Rejcek

Getting to the Bottom – NICL team processes deepest ice from WAIS Divide project

Mick Sternberg had literally made the same measurement a thousand times before. But this meter-long ice core was perhaps just a little more special. He double-checked his numbers on the final length, stood back, and rechecked again.

"No reason to rush through this," he said under his breath, which steamed out in the freezing temperatures of the National Ice Core Laboratory's processing room.

After all, this last section of ice, drilled from near the bottom of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) at a depth of about 3,331 meters, had been waiting around for a while. Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 55,000 to 60,000 years. Full Story...


March 25, 2011

The Antarctic Sun, Peter Rejcek

Trucked in – WAIS Divide ice cores arrive safely at NICL

Talk about a road trip.

Three semi-trailer trucks, each pulling 20-foot-long refrigeration containers, rolled into Denver on March 15 after a 24-hr trip across the southwest corner of the country from Port Hueneme, Calif.

The cargo: ice. Lots of it - about 43 pallets' worth. But this isn't ice for some fancy cocktail party. The trucks from California had hauled Antarctic ice cores to the National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) in Lakewood, Colo.

It was the final leg of a journey that had covered some 11,000 miles. Full Story...


August 20, 2010

The Antarctic Sun, Peter Rejcek

On the line – Researchers spend summer in deep-freeze to slice and dice WAIS Divide ice core

It's midsummer in Denver, and the city has been baking under a heat wave for a couple of months. But in one small corner of the sprawling Denver Federal Center campus in the nearby suburb of Lakewood, about a dozen people are bundled up in thickly insulated Carhartt jumpsuits, wool caps, scarves and gloves. Full Story...


January 22, 2008

Press Release 08-009, National Science Foundation

New Antarctic Ice Core to Provide Clearest Climate Record Yet

After enduring months on the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth, researchers today closed out the inaugural season on an unprecedented, multi-year effort to retrieve the most detailed record of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere over the last 100,000 years.

Working as part of the National Science Foundation's West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) Ice Core Project, a team of scientists, engineers, technicians and students from multiple U.S. institutions have recovered a 580-meter (1,900-foot) ice core -- the first section of what is hoped to be a 3,465-meter (11,360-foot) column of ice detailing 100,000 years of Earth's climate history, including a precise year-by-year record of the last 40,000 years. Full Story...