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Vostok 1984 : 150,000 years of archive


After the international agreements signed during a meeting of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research - SCAR - in 1982, Russians are prepared to welcome a French team at Vostok. It is flown there by an american airplane of the US Navy. My friends Volodya Kotlyakov, director of the Institute of Geography in Moscow, and  Dick Cameron, head of the US polar missions, supported  the execution of this undreamt of project in the middle of the cold war.

  • Vostok 1984 : 150,000 years of archive : Image25
  • Vostok 1984 : 150,000 years of archive : 7-2
  • Vostok 1984 : 150,000 years of archive : 7-11
  • Vostok 1984 : 150,000 years of archive : 7-12
  • Vostok 1984 : 150,000 years of archive : Image1-1
  • Vostok 1984 : 150,000 years of archive : Image2-1

22 December 1984 : The "frenchies" from the Grenoble lab are back at the geographic South Pole. From there we will go to the Russian base Vostok located at the planet's Pole of the cold. This new campaign will open us the doors of a treasure: the ice cores retrieved from very deep after years of efforts by hte Soviets are preserved in the ices  of the "Pole of the cold" of the planet. It will also bring us a great friendship with Volodya Lipenkov, our guide in the field. Our days there are really filled. In the ice of the corridors, where it is - 40 degrees, we have to sort, examine, sample, pack, label... As during the drilling at Dome C. But here without any anxiety as we do not have to wait for the always unpredictable lifting up of the core drill; the cores are available, tidy in the shelves of a shelter where no wind blows. The good days we "treat" 30 to 40 meters of ice cores.

The gift is splendid : the study of the samples removed  from 2,083 meters of cores will reveal 150,000 years of the climate and atmosphere composition history. Throughout the heats and the colds which mark this last natural climate cycle, we will highlight for the first time the connection between the Earth climate and the greenhouse gases level in our atmosphere. Our discovery, in which Soviets and Americans will be naturally included, enable us to make public, 20 years ago already, the present climate warming caused by the human activities rich in emissions of  greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane. And, cherry on the cake, the cover of prestigious magazine Nature, with a comment describing these archives as a "horn of plenty", conveyed the recognition of our team... and mine, then elected to the Academie des Sciences in Paris.

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