The ice cores for archiving will be handed over to the French Polar Institute (IPEV) and its Italian partner, the PNRA, for safe storage at the French-Italian Concordia station – the only international research station on the Antarctic Plateau.

The snow cave will be set up using an assembly of metal containers, placed approximately ten metres deep beneath the surface of the snow. At this depth, the temperature no longer varies, remaining constant at the average over the year of -54°C. Although the Antarctic, just like the rest of the planet, is getting relentlessly warmer, temperatures on the plateau are so low that the ice core sanctuary will experience much lower than 0°C for millennia if necessary.

Why store them in Antarctica? 

  • It offers guaranteed long-term preservation of the samples using 100% ‘natural’ storage requiring no energy consumption for refrigeration, thus protecting the precious samples from any risk of disruption to refrigeration (technical problems, economic crisis, conflict, acts of terrorism, etc.)

  • Structured management of these unique samples, combined with restrictive Antarctic logistics which prevent overly easy access to the raw material

  • Storage at an international station on international land, managed via a treaty signed by the world’s major nations and on which land claims are frozen – the ice core archive will therefore not be owned by any one nation, but rather efficiently managed by the entire international community

What about environmental impact?

The environmental impact associated with transporting the samples has proven to be virtually insignificant. In fact, transport will be based entirely on pre-existing logistics, managed by the IPEV and the PNRA. For example, each year, the IPEV transports around 500 tonnes of material from the Antarctic coast to Concordia by land. Be it refrigerated transport from Europe to Hobart in Tasmania or Lyttelton in New Zealand, polar sea transport between Hobart and the Dumont d’Urville coastal station in Antarctica or between Lyttelton and the Mario Zucchelli coastal station in Antarctica, or transport by convoy or ski-plane to Concordia, each stage will only involve a very light additional load of material to transport, representing an insignificant impact on logistics.