Scientists will soon be extracting the deepest Arctic sedimentary cores ever drilled from the Lomonosov Ridge, in the deep oceans more than 2,000 km off the coast of Norway. They will core to a depth of about 500 metres under the seabed. From studying these cores the researchers expect to help answer questions such as ‘what caused the ice-age?’ So far the deepest oceanic sediment core extracted from the Arctic is only from a depth of 16 metres.

Seafloor sediments conceal a rich history of the Earth. Studies of sedimentary cores indicate that the pace of climate change varies over time. But what actually initiates these changes? How are they spread over time and what circumstances amplify or reduce the climatic effects?

“For the first time scientists will be able to look back at a continuous record of Arctic climate history over the past 50 million years and find answers to some of these questions” says Andy Kingdon, Outreach Manager for the Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX). He adds, “The Lomonosov Ridge is as near to being a pristine, uncontaminated site as you can possibly get so we are really excited about what we might find.”

Andy Kingdon will give an overview of the aims and objectives for the research expedition. He will be joined by the Co-Chief Scientists for the expedition, Professor Jan Backman and Dr Kate Moran, and the Operations Manager, Alister Skinner. Other members of the team will also be available to answer questions.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is playing a leading role in this international research expedition. The operator of this project is the British Geological Survey in partnership with the University of Bremen, the European Petrophysics Consortium and Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, together acting as ECORD Science Operator.

ACEX is part of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), which is being launched in the UK on the same day. The IODP involves scientists from Europe, Japan and the USA who will investigate many of the Earth’s regions that were previously inaccessible in earlier ocean drilling programmes. NERC is investing £12.5 million in the Programme, which will run until 2013.

Notes for editors:

1. A full programme for the day is attached. If you would like to arrange interviews with any of the speakers please contact Marion O’Sullivan in the NERC Press Office, tel. 01793 411727 or 07946 812595

2. Journalists are welcome to continue interviews over lunch. It would be helpful if you could advise the NERC press office if you are planning to attend. Tel. 01793 411727 or 01793 442629, or email pressoffice@nerc.ac.uk

3. NERC is one of the UK’s seven Research Councils. It funds and carries out impartial scientific research, and trains the next generation of environmental scientists. It is addressing some of the key questions facing mankind such as global warming, renewable energy and sustainable economic development. More information at www.nerc.ac.uk

4. European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) represents and funds international ocean drilling at a European level. More information at: www.ecord.org

5. The British Geological Survey (BGS) is the world’s first geological survey, formed in 1835. It is the nation’s principal supplier of geoscientific expertise and custodian of much of the country’s geoscientific information. The BGS provides objective, impartial and up-to-date geoscientific information, advice and services which meet the needs of customers in the commercial, governmental and scientific communities of Great Britain and overseas, thereby contributing to the economic competitiveness of the country, the effectiveness of public services and policy, and quality of life. More information at www.bgs.ac.uk

6. The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international scientific research endeavour that supports technologically advanced ocean drilling research to investigate regions beneath the seafloor that were previously inaccessible and processes that were poorly understood. IODP conducts basic research into the history and structure of the ocean basins, the nature of climate change, ocean crust and life that exists beneath the seafloor. IODP began in October 2003 and is being launched in the UK today. More information at: www.iodp.org

7. Contact the NERC press officers for more information: Marion O’Sullivan, tel. 01793 411727 or 07946 812595 and Owen Gaffney, tel. 01793 442629 or 07775 713203

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Sverige är mycket aktiva i ACEX, t. ex. genom Polarforskningssekretariatets ansvar för den operativa verksamheten (bl.a. genom charter av isbrytaren Oden). Professor Jan Backman, Institutionen för geologi och geokemi vid Stockholms universitet, är en av de vetenskapliga ledarna för forskningsprojektet.

Ytterligare information om ACEX lämnas av Eva Grönlund, Polarforskningssekretariatet, tel 08-673 97 30, 070-344 92 51
Se även www.iodp.de och www.polar.se