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An ice divide is the boundary on an ice sheet, ice cap or glacier separating opposing flow directions of ice, analogous to a water divide. Such ice divides are important for geochronology investigations using ice cores, because such coring is typically made on top of a dome of an ice sheet to avoid interference caused by horizontal ice movement. Ice divides are used for looking at what the atmosphere was like in history. The ice is very accurate because instead of shifting horizontally like normal ice, it moves vertically downward with time trapping gases into its layers. Scientist find these ice divides and take ice cores from them, which are typically long cylinder poles of ice, and evaluate them. Once they have these ice cores, they are able to look through it and find elements that the snow and ice carried down with it during that time period such as sulfate, nitrate, and other ions. These ice cores are important in determining how our atmosphere has changed for the better or worse, and how we can fix it such as the greenhouse effect which discovered when scientist found how much more greenhouse gasses was in our atmosphere than there was in the past.[1]

Scientists from around the United States came together to find the perfect ice divide in order to go the furthest into the past. They formed the WAIS project. This project is funded by the United States National Science Foundation, and is run by scientists from many organizations such as National Ice Core Laboratory, Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO), and over fifty Universities. The WAIS project is located in West Antarctica, and the goal is to look into the past 100,000 years. WAIS is better than other ice divides because of the amount of snow it gets. This large amount of snow causes there to be a very small off-set from the ages of the ice to the air and gases trapped inside. This gives the scientists to give much more precise predictions of what the atmosphere was like in history. If the WAIS project is a success it will educate scientists around the world how the atmosphere of Earth has changed completely over 100,000 years.[2]


  1. ^ University of Copenhagen. (2012). Centre for Ice and Climate. Retrieved December 6, 2012 (dead link)[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "National Science Foundation. (2012, December 6). Science. Retrieved December 6, 2012, from WAIS Divide Ice Core website". Archived from the original on 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2013-07-01.