News Brief by Kip Hansen
“Ice from the Canadian Arctic has completely melted, leaving puddles of water in its place and scientists devastated.
O.K., this is what actually happened: Ice cores, millennia-old ice samples extracted by scientists from locations across the Canadian Arctic, melted because of a freezer malfunction in a lab at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The loss of these ice cores could hinder scientific research into how changes in the atmosphere have shaped Earth’s climate history, and how they could affect its future.
On April 2, the temperature of a storage freezer in the Canadian Ice Core Archive rose to about 100 degrees —… “
Now that’s Arctic warming — 100 degrees (F?) in a storage freezer?
“…some part of the cooling system failed, “then tried to get itself back into action and in the process, piped hot air back into the room,” according to Martin Sharp, the director of the archive. The freezer became so hot that it tripped the fire alarm, Dr. Sharp said, and partially or fully melted 180 ice cores collected by government scientists since the mid-1970s from the snowy expanse of the Canadian Arctic.
Dr. Sharp, also a glaciology professor at the university, said there was water all over the floor, and steam rising from puddles of ancient water.”
Luckily, although there were 12 complete cores, comprising more than 1,400 one-meter segments, which were believed to cover about 80,000 years of atmospheric history, “none of the 12 main cores were wholly destroyed.” They did lose about 12% of the total collection.
The loss of this important repository of ice cores and the data that could be extracted from it is regrettable. We are assured that steps are being taken to prevent any future loss.
My sympathies go out to the Canadian Ice Core Archive, Dr. Martin Sharp, its Director, and the many scientists who work will be hampered by this sad event.