It must have a suitable freezing point and viscosity.
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Seasonal differences in the snow properties create layers – just like rings in trees.
Unfortunately, annual layers become harder to see deeper in the ice core.
This section contains 11 annual layers with summer layers (arrowed) sandwiched between darker winter layers.
From the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Wikimedia Commons.
U from dust in the ice matrix can be used to provide an additional core chronology.
The thickness of the annual layers in ice cores can be used to derive a precipitation rate (after correcting for thinning by glacier flow).
If we want to reconstruct past air temperatures, one of the most critical parameters is the age of the ice being analysed.
Fortunately, ice cores preserve annual layers, making it simple to date the ice.
The relationship is consistent and linear over Antarctica.