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An ice core is a core sample that is typically removed from an ice sheet, most commonly from the polar ice caps of Antarctica, Greenland or from high mountain glaciers elsewhere.Since the ice forms from the incremental buildup of annual layers of snow, lower layers are older than upper, and an ice core contains ice formed over a range of years.In order to obtain a sample from the person upon which a tracer study is being made, which contains an analyzable quantity of carbon 14, the person must be exposed to a much larger quantity of carbon 14.

Both the physical properties of the ice itself and material trapped in the ice can be used to reconstruct information about climate over the age range of the core.The ratio of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in the ice provides information about ancient temperatures; and the air trapped in tiny bubbles in the ice can be analyzed to determine the level of atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide.Since heat flow in a large ice sheet is very slow, the borehole temperature is another indicator of temperature in the past, and these sources of information can be combined to find the climate model that best fits all the available data.(B) History of the Prior Art The most common method for detecting and quantifying carbon 14 is scintillation counting of the radioactive decomposition of the carbon 14 isotope.The non-radioactive and more common (one trillionth) gram of carbon 14 cannot be quantitatively determined by scintillation counting in less than one hour with a statistical precision of 5% or better.

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