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The relationship is consistent and linear over Antarctica. Snow falls over Antarctica and is slowly converted to ice. For example, melt layers are related to summer temperatures. More melt layers indicate warmer summer air temperatures. They allow us to go back in time and to sample accumulation, air temperature and air chemistry from another time.
It is possible to discern past air temperatures from ice cores.
Other ways of dating ice cores include geochemisty, layers of ash (tephra), electrical conductivity, and using numerical flow models to understand age-depth relationships.
This 19 cm long of GISP2 ice core from 1855 m depth shows annual layers in the ice.
420,000 years of ice core data from Vostok, Antarctica research station. From bottom to top: * Solar variation at 65°N due to en: Milankovitch cycles (connected to 18O). They spent two nights at each site, first collecting radar data and secondly collecting a 15 m shallow ice core. This schematic cross section of an ice sheet shows an ideal drilling site at the centre of the polar plateau near the ice divide, with ice flowing away from the ice divide in all direction. The large Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have huge, high plateaux where snow accumulates in an ordered fashion.
The team were travelling across the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to study snow accumulation.