This coming December, a European consortium will go to Antarctica to begin drilling to the eastern ice sheet of the continent. They aim to pull up a frozen core of material almost 3 kilometers in length.
Scientists hope this can lead them to an explanation for why Earth's ice ages flipped in frequency in the deep past.
Although it might seem at first glance to be a rather esoteric quest, researchers say it bears down directly on the question of how much the world is likely to warm in the centuries ahead.
"Something happened about 900,000 years ago. The ice age cycles changed from every 40,000 years or so, to every 100,000 years; and we don't know why," Dr Catherine Ritz from the Institute of Environmental Geosciences in Grenoble, France, told BBC News.
The site for the new drilling operation would be at the spot dubbed as the “Little Dome C”, found about 40km southwest of the Dome Concordia, the Franco-Italian research station.
Find out more about this icy operation over at BBC.
(Image Credit: Laurent Augustin/ CNRS / BBC)