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A team of scientists will extract a core from some of the deepest ice in Antarctica. Credit: Natalie Tepper/Arcaid/Corbis

Australia announced plans to drill a 2,000 year-old ice

core in the heart of Antarctica in a bid to retrieve a frozen record of

how the planet has evolved and what might be in store.


The Aurora Basin North project involves scientists from Australia,

France, Denmark and the United States who hope it will also advance the

search for the scientific "holy grail" of the million-year-old ice core.

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The project, in an area that harbors some of the deepest ice in the

frozen continent, over three kilometers (1.9-miles) thick, will give

experts access to some of the most detailed records yet of past climate

in the vast region.

Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke on Saturday said such

drills were critically important to understanding how the climate has

naturally varied to help predict future responses to global climate


"Ice cores provide the written history of our atmosphere and our

water," he said in announcing the project which will start with a French

team traversing the site in December next year.

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The eight-week drill through 400 meters (1,312 feet) of ice, 600

kilometers inland from Australia's Casey Station in the continent's

east, will follow soon after.

"Seeking ice cores from this new area where there is much higher snow

fall than other inland sites provides a massive increase in the level

of detail which lives within the ice," Burke added.

"We have had information that is 2,000 years old before, but we have

never had access to this sort of detail which we believe lies deep

within this part of the ice."

He said it was an international effort in the quest for even older ice.

"It is expected that this will lead to actual drilling for a one

million-year-old core by various international consortia in the coming

years," he said.