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2/19/2007

Peruvian Glacier May Vanish In 5 Years

Earth News: Peru, S.A.
Global Warming Alert
Photo: The 200-foot-deep lake at the margin of the glacier only formed in 1991, a reminder of how much ice has been lost from this remote site. (Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State University)


Feb 18, 2007
When glaciologist Lonnie Thompson returns to Peru's Qori Kalis glacier early this summer, he expects to find that half of the ice he saw during his visit there last year has vanished.
What troubles him the most is his recent observations that suggest that the entire glacier may likely be gone within the next five years, providing possibly the clearest evidence so far of global climate change.
The fact that the Qori Kalis glacier, high in the Andes Mountains , is only one of many ice tongues retreating on the Quelccaya Ice Cap, the largest body of ice in the tropics, provides strong evidence of the warming that appears to be underway worldwide. Thompson, Distinguished University Professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University and a world-acclaimed paleoclimatologist, outlined his fears at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco this week.
Since 1974, Thompson has made the trek to the Quelccaya ice cap at least 27 times, drilling cores through to bedrock, taking samples and periodically monitoring its slow but accelerating retreat. Ancient plant beds have been newly uncovered as the ice retreats. The first were discovered in 2002, more are uncovered each year, and carbon dating indicates that most have been buried for at least 5,000 years. They indicate that the current retreat of the ice exceeds any other retreat in at least the last 50 centuries.
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