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And still other scientists drill into layers of ice to collect long cylindrical sections of accumulated ice.The image to the left shows the bottom of an ice drill; the cutter head (the part that cuts the ice) and the core barrel, (the hollow tube that follows the cutter head to capture and hold the ice as it is extracted.) Each of these types of cores represents a glimpse into the past; a layered collection of information about past climates, Earth processes and major events.Receive our Daily Briefing for a digest of the past 24 hours of climate and energy media coverage, or our Weekly Briefing for a round-up of our content from the past seven days.Collecting a core refers to cutting and removing a cylindrical section of a sample or substance, much like coring an apple involves taking a cylindrical section of the apple.Think of the core as a vertical scale, the higher you climb up the scale the more recent the information.In order to determine just how much time is represented in a core, precise analysis and chemical testing is done.Scientists travel to the ends of the Earth to gather ice cores…but why?

The closer to the surface you travel up a core, the closer the events, or time represented, are to the present.Past climates and temperatures, large scale Earth events such as volcanic eruptions, atmospheric changes, ice accumulation rates over time, changes in vegetation and human impacts on the overall Earth system through emissions of gases and chemicals are all information that is captured in ice cores.Scientists can use other methods to try and determine past climates, but ice cores provide continuous, direct, high resolution information which can provide annual, as well as seasonal information.Some scientists collect sediment cores from the bottom of the ocean using long hollow tubes, which are pushed into the sediment collected on the ocean floor.Other scientists collect rock cores by drilling a hollow metal tube into the Earth and removing a section of rock.

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