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Document Details

Long Range Science Plan
Authors: IDPO
Year: 2018
Keywords: Science Plan, Long Range, IDPO

Executive Summary

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

The Ice Drilling Program Office (IDPO) was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to lead integrated planning for ice coring and drilling. The IDPO and its Science Advisory Board (SAB) update this Long Range Science Plan annually in consultation with the broader research community. The purpose of this plan is to articulate goals and make recommendations for the direction of U.S. ice coring and drilling science in a wide variety of areas of scientific inquiry, and to make recommendations for the development of drilling technology, infrastructure and logistical support needed to enable the science. A companion document, the Long Range Drilling Technology Plan is available online ( and is necessary to achieve the goals articulated here.

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