And, finally, we’re building Camp Century to provide a good base, here, in the interior of Greenland, where the scientists can carry on their R activities.”

When Evans talked to Cronkite, some researchers and soldiers working at Century were aware that his answer was not entirely forthright.

In trenches under the ice about a quarter mile from the main camp, an Army Corps engineer was secretly moving massive hunks of pig iron on a flatbed rail car—thousands of pounds of raw metal meant to approximate the weight of an intermediate range ballistic missile.

A small number of glaciologists had already come to understand that the ice sheet probably contained a frozen archive of long-ago events and temperatures—that it was encrypted, in some yet-to-be-deciphered way, with a code to the past.

The working assumption was that by drilling into the ice you could pull up a sample—a cylinder of ice that became known as a core—and use laboratory tools to unlock mysteries from the past.

To Bader, the layered ice sheet promised to capture a year-by-year record of climactic and atmospheric history, meaning that if one could figure out how to read precise temperatures in these layers, one would find (as Bader put it) “a treasure trove.”

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