Preserve our past and protect our future
Ice cores hold the key to understanding our changing environment.
The Byrd Center conducts world-class research in polar and alpine climate science. The Center’s facility houses 4.5 miles of ice core samples from around the globe, including some from glaciers that no longer exist, enabling researchers to better understand our past in a way that is directly affecting environmental and public health issues.
You can help our scientists preserve these essential ice core samples by giving to the Ice Core Facility Renovation Fund. This facility is over 30 years old and is in desperate need of renovation. Please click here to see images of the current state of the facility.
Your generosity will ensure we document Earth’s climate history while maintaining a frozen archive for the next generation of scientists.
Make your gift today.
Our current freezers maintain the collection of ice cores recovered from glaciers around the world at –30ºF. These freezers have been in continuous operation since 1989 and are currently at capacity with approximately 4.5 miles of ice drilled over 64 expeditions. A feasibility study conducted by SHP Leading Design recommends renovation of the existing freezers as well as the phased addition of 4 freezers that will utilize more modern technologies and efficiencies. This will help OSU meet its sustainability goals while supporting world-class research.
Expansion includes new freezers, new workrooms, new mechanical equipment, shelving and renovation of some existing rooms. The expansion will hold 6,776 additional cores and feature a new educational space with displays and accommodations for groups touring the facility. This project has a $7 M budget.
The Ice Core Research Expansion Will:
- Increase Ice Core Storage Capacity
doubling our current ice core storage capacity to 13,552 meter long sections of core
- Inspire the Next Generation of Scientists
creating a dedicated educational space for tours where all ages, K-12+, can learn through hands on activities and observations
- Enhance Research Lab Space
providing safe, controlled environments in which the team conducts its research
70% of Earth’s population lives in and around the Tropics. Thus, it is important to understand both the past natural tropical climatic variability and the drivers of the current accelerating loss of glaciers on tropical mountain ranges. The ongoing loss of these glaciers has serious implications for water resources and the nearly 2 billion people who live in these regions.
Ohio State's Ice Core Facility is the only place in the world where ice from many of these vanishing glaciers still exists. Future generations of scientists will deploy new methods and technologies to answer questions about our future informed by this glacial archive. But, this will happen only if we have facilities with conditions to properly preserve the existing collection and additional space to house unique ice cores acquired from remote mountains before they disappear from nature permanently.
The Ice Core Paleoclimatology Research Group at Ohio State drilled the world's first deep tropical ice cores in 1983 on the summit of the Quelccaya ice cap in the southern Andes of Peru. Since then, many more ice cores have been obtained from glaciers such as Kilimanjaro (Tanzania); Sajama (Bolivia); Huascarán, Coropuna, and Hualcán (Peru); and five sites in the Third Pole (Tibetan Plateau) region. The research group has recently launched new research programs to study the evolution of bacteria and viruses which have been preserved in ice for millennia, allowing scientists to address how their evolution has proceeded over the last million years.
- 15,000-Year-Old Viruses Discovered in Tibetan Glacier Ice. Laura Arenschield. Ohio State News. June 28, 2021.
- TEDxOhioStateUniversity: Horizons. Lonnie Thompson. March 13, 2021
- Climate Science, Part 1 (Data). QED with Dr. B. WOSU. February 17, 2021.
- Byrd Advisory Board Joint Statement on Ice Core Facility Renovation. Byrd Center Advisory Board. November 2020.
- Ohio State Scientists Seek Funds To Preserve Rare Ice Core Collection. Beth Burger. The Columbus Dispatch. November 13, 2020.
- How the earth benefited from people staying home during pandemic. Mackenzie Bart. WBNS 10 News. October 28, 2020.
- All Sides with Ann Fisher: The importance of the ice archives at the OSU Byrd Center. Ann Fisher. WOSU. October 27, 2020.
To learn more, please review the Ice Core Facility Renovation Brochure (PDF), the Byrd Advisory Board Joint Statement on Ice Core Facility Renovation (PDF), and the Ice Core Facility Renovation FAQ (PDF).
To meet the research team, view the facilities, or learn more about this campaign, please contact: