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Drinking water from ice cores

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 28, 2011

According to climate scientist Paul Mayewski, he and his team sometimes melt down unneeded ice cores that they’ve collected in places like Antarctica and drink the resulting water. The ice, as well as the air trapped within, can be more than a hundred thousand years old.

Probably the most exciting thing about it is when you have real ice — that’s where the snow has been gradually compacted and eventually formed into ice, and the density has increased. When that happens, if the ice is old, it will often trap air bubbles in it. Those air bubbles can contain carbon dioxide from ten thousand years ago or even a hundred thousand years ago. And when you put an ice cube of that ice in a glass of water, it pops. It has natural effervescence as those gas bubbles escape. You get a little a puff of air into your nostrils if you have your nose over the glass. It’s not as though it necessarily smells like anything — but when you think about the fact that the last time that anything smelled that air was a hundred thousand years ago, that’s pretty interesting.

For his wedding reception, Mayewski had water from “Greenland ice and Antarctic ice” for his guests to drink. (thx, finn)

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