Friday, May 3, 2019 - 12:00pm
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100F Pierce Hall, 29 Oxford St., Cambridge

Atmospheric & Environmental Chemistry Seminar

"Rapid Climate Change: Evidence from Andean Ice Fields and Beyond" with Lonnie Thompson, Ohio State.

Our tropical ice core program began in 1974 with a focus on the Quelccaya ice cap (Peruvian Andes) which we drilled to bedrock in 1983. The resulting 1500-year climate record provided the first evidence of the “Little Ice Age” in the southern tropics. Subsequent drilling projects on high-altitude glaciers in the central Andes, the Tibetan Plateau, southeastern Alaska, East Africa, and Papua, Indonesia have yielded climate records covering many millennia and some back to the last glacial cycle. Ice core-derived climate records from opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean show teleconnections between the Andes and Himalaya through processes involving the tropical Pacific atmosphere and sea surface temperatures. Evidence for a massive mid-Holocene drought occurs in many of these tropical cores. However, glaciers, which are highly sensitive indicators and recorders of climate change, are retreating due to the recent anthropogenic warming, often augmented by the effects of El Niño. Stable isotopic evidence of this warming will be presented, along with a discussion of new research on black carbon and microorganisms in ice. An overview of our upcoming expedition to Huascarán in northern Peru, one of the few remaining ice fields not yet dramatically affected by recent climate change, will also be presented. The present and future impacts of low-latitude glacier melting jeopardize countries with economies that rely on glacial streams and rivers. The loss of these mountain glaciers is likely to be a “threat multiplier” for growing geopolitical tensions in some regions.

Contact Name: 

Kelvin Bates

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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