Ice samples from other areas yielded 800,000-year-old air bubbles. Those samples showed a lockstep correlation between higher greenhouse gas levels and increased temperatures over thousands of years, according to research published in Nature.
NEWS: NASA's IceBridge Readies 1st Antarctic Mission
Greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, may have been the culprits behind the Mid-Pleistocene Transition, as well. However, drills will need to pluck a 2.4 – 3.2 (1.5 – 2 mile)-kilometer-long ice core from the Antarctic ice to give scientists the 1.5 million-year-old sample they need.
"A deep drilling project in Antarctica could commence within the next three to five years," Fischer said. "This time would also be needed to plan the drilling logistically and create the funding for such an exciting large-scale international research project, which would cost around 50 million Euros."
IMAGE: A researcher from the University of Copenhagen examines an ice core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. (NASA/Lora Koenig, Wikimedia Commons)