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Thin Ice

Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World's Highest Mountains

Mark Bowen

Holt Paperbacks

While mainstream science has focused on polar ice to find clues about climate change, Lonnie Thompson has been risking his career and life on the highest and most remote ice caps along the equator. In the process he has changed the science of climatology.
 
The idea guiding Thompson's research is deceptively simple: climate is about energy flow, and because the sun's heat enters the atmosphere at the lower latitudes of the tropics, it follows that the equator's mountain glaciers are the ideal place from which to map the course of climate change. Layers of snow that have been laid down year by year can be read like tree rings, providing detailed information about climate history reaching back 750,000 years. The trick is to come up with a safe and reliable method for retrieving and preserving ice cores while living and working for weeks, sometimes months, in what mountaineers call the "death zone," the environment above eighteen thousand feet. Thompson has done just that, and to gather significant data he has spent more time in the death zone than any man who has ever lived. As explorer and expedition leader, Lonnie Thompson occupies that narrow perch on adventure's summit alongside Ernest Shackleton.
 
Scientist and expert climber Mark Bowen joined Thompson's crew on several expeditions, including an eye-opening ascent in East Africa that revealed why the snows of Kilimanjaro will be gone in fifteen years. Bowen also includes an account of the dangerous Huascarán ascent where Thompson's discovery of an unknown type of glacial ice revealed how pieces of the global climate puzzle fit together. Bowen also ventures deep inside retreating glaciers from China and the Tibetan Plateau across South America's Andes and to Africa.

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Thin Ice
PART ITHE SAJAMA EXPEDITION1THE MOUNTAIN GODThe Aymara are descended from the Tiwanaku, a mysterious pre-Incan people who once ruled an empire encompassing most of present-day Chile, Peru, and Bolivia from a city on the shores of Lake Titicaca, an inland sea on the high Altiplano. Like their ancestors, many of today's Aymara revere the snow-covered mountains as gods, for they produce the rare trickles of water that make life possible in this inhospitable land. The Aymara believe water is to the land as blood is to the body--the sacred essence of life and fecundity--and that mountain
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Praise for Thin Ice

"Amusing and entertaining . . . Thin Ice is at the same time a scientific biography, a fine introduction to the sciences of climate change and a vivid description of a geophysicist's work under most extreme conditions."--Nature

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Thin Ice

Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World's Highest Mountains

Mark Bowen

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