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Drinking ancient ice core water

Edible Geography has put up a fascinating interview with Paul Mayewski, an ice core researcher who often times drinks the objects of his study!

Edible Geography: What does it taste like?

Paul Mayewski: It tastes about as clean as anything can taste. It doesn’t have a lot of anything in it. When you’ve pulled water out of a stream flowing from a glacier it would probably have a lot of nutrients and particles floating in it, because it comes from the base of the glacier. But if you’re sampling high up in the glacier, as we are, you’re only getting what the atmosphere has deposited over a very short period of time — maybe a couple of days or weeks. So it tastes very, very clean.

Probably the most exciting thing about it is when you have real ice — that’s where the snow has been gradually compacted and eventually formed into ice, and the density has increased. When that happens, if the ice is old, it will often trap air bubbles in it.

Those air bubbles can contain carbon dioxide from ten thousand years ago or even a hundred thousand years ago. And when you put an ice cube of that ice in a glass of water, it pops. It has natural effervescence as those gas bubbles escape. You get a little a puff of air into your nostrils if you have your nose over the glass. It’s not as though it necessarily smells like anything — but when you think about the fact that the last time that anything smelled that air was a hundred thousand years ago, that’s pretty interesting.

It’s more about the feeling than the taste.

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Story: Nicola, Edible Geography | Photo: Edible Geography

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