Bolivians collect pieces of melting glacier for posterity

June 22, 2017 Updated: June 22, 2017

Scientist are working to preserve memories of a glacier. They are collecting ice fragments from a glacier in Illimani Mountain in the Andes. The glacier faces the capital of Bolivia. Fifteen scientists have drilled out ice cores, and split them into 75 fragments with special equipment. Each fragment gets its own box. The cylindrical pieces will be added to a museum of sorts. The glacier is legendary in traditional folklore.

The ice is being collected as part of the Ice Memory project. Ice Memory is a French and Italian led UNESCO expedition to preserve important natural ice glacier artifacts around the world. The project launched in March, and has collected samples for preservation from Mont Blanc in the Alps, and plans to head to Russia and Nepal.

After removing the drilled fragments, they will transport the pieces to Antarctica for preservation in a kind of archive. They are preserving 18,000 years of climatic history in the ice samples before rising temperatures melt it away. Machines allow them to drill 430 feet (130 meters) deep.

The preparations are intense, as scientists must work in extremely icy conditions. They have to transport the proper machinery and tools necessary to do the job to each location.

The collected ice allows climatologists and glaciologists to recall temperatures, atmospheric compositions, and historical climates, and pass this information down to future generations.

It’s the first time for such a project, and worries about global warming are spurring it forward. The methods used to extract historical data from pieces of ice are beyond the comprehension of most, but the parties doing the work see its value and are absolutely dedicated. They also believe that the future will bring new technologies that make the ice samples even more useful.

Global warming is melting the glaciers, creating avalanches and eliminating it as a source of fresh water. Scientists are working hard to preserve this Bolivian icon, as it sits facing the capital city La Paz, capturing the wonder of generations.

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