It never ceases to amaze me where ion chromatography (IC) analysis can be applied…food, chemicals, pollution, water, plastics, children’s toys, pesticides, and now in the analysis of ice cores from the Antarctica to understand past, present, and future climate trends!

TALDICE site on map of AntarticaThe TALos Dome Ice CorE (TALDICE) research project involves five European countries–Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom–and is focused on retrieving and analyzing ice cores from most of the Holocene period (Wikipedia link) and to the previous glaciation period (about 250,000 years). The ice core is being extracted from peripheral dome of East Antarctica, which is more sensitive to climate fluctuations. See map on the right for the location of the site. (Map courtesy of the TALDICE website.)

Drilling of the ice core started in 1996 and has been going during each Antarctic season. Check out some really amazing pictures of the drilling of the ice cores! They also have lots of technical details on the drilling in case you are interested.

The ion chromatography analysis of the inorganic anions, organic anions, and cations of the ice coreis being done at Florence University in Italy. A special heated grid melts the base of the ice core, and the liquid sample is delivered to a dual IC system. The small sample size of the fast IC system has the advantage of allowing the scientists to analyze samples that comprise ice formed in less than a year.

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AntarticIce TALDICE projectIn the photograph on the left, you can see Florence University’s Professor Roberto Udisti and Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Franco Abbale and Chris Pohl from Thermo Fisher Scientific in a -20 °C deep-freeze room viewing an ice core retrieved from the Talos Dome.

For a comprehensive list of published articles on the research, check out the TALDICE website.

Are you using IC technology for unusual applications? If yes, let us know by using the Comments box below. We would love to hear from you.