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Ice layers

Deep and Blue

Scientists dug pits up to 10 feet deep in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to expose layers of ice that are laid down snowfall by snowfall, year after year. The deeper the scientists dig, the further they go back into the past. MIT/WHOI Joint Program graduate student Alison Criscitiello is reconstructing the history of how sea ice has formed off the Antarctic coast by analyzing a chemical in these ice layers called methanesulfonic acid, or MSA (see video). She is working with glaciologists Sarah Das from WHOI and Ian Joughin of the University of Washington, seen here in the pit. With backlighting, layers in the ice become easy to see. (Photo by Ali Criscitiello, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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