Vision & Mission

One of the most pressing problems facing society today is the greenhouse gas-induced warming of the Earth, which may potentially change many other aspects of global climate and environmental systems, including sea level rise and possible abrupt impacts of change.

A sophisticated and predictive understanding of the mechanisms of climate change and the effects on sea level change are needed to plan for the future. Glaciers, ice sheets, and subglacial environments contain records of past atmospheric composition, climate, and ice thickness, which provide clues to understanding future climate. They also contain information relating to the physics of ice sheets and the processes that control their stability and response to climate change. Furthermore, the subglacial realm preserves unique biological, geochemical, and geological environments. Extracting this information involves drilling and coring of the polar ice sheets, a specialized and challenging endeavor that requires extensive planning, technology, and logistics.


To enable discoveries about changes in climate and the environment, using evidence from within and beneath glaciers and ice sheets, to inform environmental policy.


The U.S. Ice Drilling Program’s mission is to conduct integrated planning for the ice drilling science and technology communities, and to provide drilling technology and operational support that will enable the community to advance the frontiers of science.