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Ice cores have been a crucial source of information about past changes in the climate and atmosphere. The Vostok ice core from Antarctica has provided key global change data sets extending 400,000 years in the past [Petit et al., 1999], while Japanese scientists drilling at Dome Fuji have obtained records extending to 330,000 years. Now, a new core being drilled by a consortium of European laboratories has surpassed these ages, and looks like extending the ice core record several hundred thousand years into the past.

Ice cores are unique: of all the paleo-records, they have the most direct linkage with the atmosphere. At some sites, the time resolution is sufficient to study extremely fast climate changes; and they have information about many forcing factors for climate (including greenhouse gas concentrations) displayed in the same cores as the resulting climate changes.