Japan considering new base on Antarctica

Jun 23, 2014
File photo of a solar eclipse taken from the Dome Fuj Station, some 1,000 kilometres south of the Japanese observation base at Showa

Japan is looking at building a new base on Antarctica so scientists can study air trapped in ice a million years ago, in a bid to better understand climate change, an official said Monday.

Tokyo already has four stations on the frozen continent, two of which are currently in use—the Syowa Station on the coast and the Dome Fuji Station inland.

Japanese research teams at Dome Fuji Station have sampled air captured in as long ago as 720,000 years, after drilling down 3,000 metres (1.86 miles).

At the proposed new base, scientists would be able to drill down to reach ice that formed 1 million years ago, beating the current sampling record held by a European team, which has looked at 800,000-year-old ice.

"The idea came up in a government panel discussion last week as an important possibility for the next six-year Antarctic project starting in 2016," the official at the science and technology ministry said.

"But it is still far from being determined, as it would have to be approved under the Antarctic Treaty," he said, adding the government also needs to study how feasible it would be to build a new base.

Under the international treaty, Antarctica does not belong to any single country, but dozens of member states—including the US, Russia, Japan, Australia and some European countries—agree to use it for scientific research.

They also agree to share scientific data and not to build military installations on the continent.

Scientists have studied air bubbles captured in the ice sheet in ancient periods as a way to learn about the elementary structure of the atmosphere.

By analysing the history of temperature and CO2 transitions, they can better understand future .

Explore further: Polar scientists drill 2,000-year-old ice core

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Polar scientists drill 2,000-year-old ice core

May 08, 2014

Polar scientists said Thursday they had successfully drilled a 2,000-year-old ice core in the heart of Antarctica in a bid to retrieve a frozen record of how the planet's climate has evolved.

Scientists warn of tourism threat to Antarctica

Jun 18, 2014

Antarctic scientists warned Wednesday that a surge in tourists visiting the frozen continent and new roads and runways built to service research facilities were threatening its fragile environment.

West Antarctic ice sheet formed earlier than thought

Oct 09, 2013

About 34 million years ago, Earth transitioned from a warm "greenhouse" climate to a cold "icehouse" climate, marking the transition between the Eocene and Oligocene epochs. This transition has been associated with the formation ...

Recommended for you

Questions of continental crust

12 hours ago

Geological processes shape the planet Earth and are in many ways essential to our planet's habitability for life. One important geological process is plate tectonics – the drifting, colliding and general ...

Better forecasts for sea ice under climate change

Nov 25, 2014

University of Adelaide-led research will help pinpoint the impact of waves on sea ice, which is vulnerable to climate change, particularly in the Arctic where it is rapidly retreating.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.