Polar Archive

Drilling into the past: located at the outer edge of northeastern Siberia is Lake El'gygytgyn, which was formed 3.6 million years ago by a meteorite strike. The sediment layers at the bottom of the lake represent an invaluable climate archive of the Arctic: they provide us with information on how the continental Arctic responded to past climate changes. With the knowledge that is gained, it will be possible to take a look into the future: researchers from the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Cologne are asking themselves "how will the Arctic respond to renewed climate change and what implications will that have for the rest of the planet?"

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Polar Archive: Episode 00, 15/06/2009

Polar Archive


At a glance

University/Institution: University of Cologne
Field of Research: Climate Science, Fundamental Genomics Research, Geochemistry, Geosciences, Hydrogeologie
Location: Cologne, Siberia
Episodes: 12
Season/Year: 2. Season/ 2009 until 2010
Status: Finished
Topics: elgygytgyn, lake, siberia, russia, millions of years, climate documentation

Polar Archive

Drilling in the arctic: climate research for the future

Adventure in Ice

Lying at the bottom of Lake El'gygytgyn, located in extreme northeastern Siberia, is the oldest climate archive in the terrestrial Arctic—a treasure that the researchers hope to tap into.

Frozen Noses

Lots of luggage, a snow storm and frozen noses – the journey to Lake El'gygytgyn can begin, but will everything go smoothly? In Pevek the team of three researchers encounter an unexpected storm…

Working Shifts

Working down into the depths layer by layer: How do the researchers bring the past to light, and what do they discover?


Rien ne va plus: The amount of sand and gravel increases, the drill head jams and the rotation does the rest: The drilling tube twists off. What now?

Hunters and Fishers

The spare parts are in—but there's a new problem. The lake doesn't seem to want to release its archive. A case for the downhole logger…

Turbulent Times

Spring is approaching, the temperatures are rising and the platform’s weight is a heavy burden – how much longer will the ice on Lake El'gygytgyn hold out? The situation becomes precarious when the ice begins to "creep"...

Jackpot! Impactites

Will they reach the impactites and hit the jackpot? And how can protozoa help reconstruct the climate’s history?

Time to Knock Off

The drilling is finished and the target has been reached, the crew is tired and it’s nearly time to say farewell, but now the platform won’t budge…

Through and Through

The researchers have been home for ages already – now the cores are finally arriving in Cologne too. In addition to a high resolution image the core scanner which uses X-rays, allows the researchers to take a detailed look deep inside them as well...


Can you look back into the past using algae skeletons? How to reconstruct climate history on the basis of diatom analysis and the ratio of heavy and light oxygen…

Climate Patterns

What was the climate like at Lake El'gygytgyn in the past? The opened sediment cores give a rough idea of the cold and warm periods, but how can the researchers obtain a more detailed image of the past?
Field of Research Universities/Institutions Locations Timeframe of Coverage