One Cool Thing: A Breath of Fresh Air

Image: Andrew Mandemaker via Wikimedia Commons

Delegates attending the COP26 conference in Glasgow will get to see a very cool display during their stay. So cool, in fact, that it’s been frozen since 1765. Artist Wayne Binitie and scientists of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have retrieved an Antarctic time capsule containing the world’s purest air. The pocket of atmosphere was captured in ice just before the industrial revolution, which catapulted the rapid pollution of our world.

 

Like rings on trees, the Antarctic ice has layers upon layers beneath it, allowing scientists to pinpoint precisely when air, or even volcanic ash, was captured inside. “Snow falls in Antarctica year by year — but there’s no melting going on,” explained glaciologist Dr. Robert Mulvaney of the BAS. “So, the snow builds up and compresses all the years of snow beneath. As we drill down, we’re driving further and further into the past.”

 

The Polar Zero exhibit will display the ice core and even allow visitors to touch and taste the ice. It “seems more urgent than ever before to ask what it means to touch and be in touch with the earth,” said Binitie.

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