Samples known as ice cores are regularly drilled through the ice in Antarctica for various scientific research. They are removed as a long cylinder of ice that gives an indication of the past going back as far as 800,000 years. The properties of the ice, of dust trapped in the ice, and even of air bubbles trapped in the ice give valuable information about the earth’s climate at various times in the past.

Theoretically, a glaciologist could melt a frozen ice core and hand you a drink of water dating back to the Roman Empire.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 15.25.20Photo Courtesy of Emily Stone – National Science Foundation